Our People

While it’s true we have world-class facilities and beautiful grounds, our most prized asset is our people.

From our teachers and management team to our dedicated Trust Board and support team, every single staff member brings a wealth of skills and life experience to the College. Collectively, they create the joyful and high-achieving environment for which St Cuthbert’s is known.


Ms Justine MahonJustine Mahon

Justine was appointed as Principal in 2018 after being the College’s Deputy Principal for 15  years. She has been an integral part of both the leadership of the College during this time and of the College’s consistent outstanding success – academically, culturally and in sport.

In her roles as Deputy Principal and Head of Senior School, Justine has led the development of the College’s strong pastoral framework which is fundamental to ensuring our girls have the resilience and skills to achieve their absolute potential.

Justine has also played a significant role in developing and mentoring our teachers, and in the strategic development of the school curriculum and programmes.

Justine brings a wealth of experience as an educator to the role of Principal, across the primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors. Justine was previously a senior lecturer in education with the Auckland College of Education and is a leader in the development of strategies to ensure teachers are prepared for the classroom.

Justine has taught in schools in New Zealand, Germany and the United Kingdom where her teaching subjects were German, English, and Classics. She is a past member of the Executive of the New Zealand Language Teachers’ Association and, while Head of Languages at Birkenhead College, Justine was awarded a Goethe Institute Scholarship to study in Berlin. Prior to the reunification of Germany, Justine had worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the New Zealand Embassy in the then capital, Bonn, and later had a period as an actor and translator for a series for Cologne Television.

In her spare time, Justine enjoys anything to do with the arts,  the written word or the sea. An Old Girl of the College, she is married to Gregory Heap, and they have three children: Old Girl Celia Mahon-Heap, who is an architect currently based in Shanghai, and sons, William and Jonathan, who both qualified as lawyers and are working in London.

Justine has a Master of Arts (Hons) in German, a Bachelor of Arts in English and German, a Diploma of Teaching and a Post Graduate Diploma of Education majoring in Counselling.

Ms Fiona Cottam

Head of Senior School and Deputy Principal

Fiona Cottam is the Head of Senior School and Deputy Principal, appointed in 2018. Fiona comes to us with several years of senior leadership experience behind her, most recently at Botany Downs Secondary College where she was Associate and Acting Principal over a two-and-a-half year period. Prior to that, Fiona was Deputy Principal at Epsom Girls Grammar School for eight years.

Fiona started her teaching career at St Cuthbert’s College in 1990 after being here on practicum in 1989 and being spotted by Mrs Fay Pearce and Mrs Gill Hubble as a good teacher of History and English. Fiona left St Cuthbert’s in 1995 to become the first full-time female classroom teacher at Auckland Grammar School; she went on to teach at Diocesan School for Girls where she was a dean and Acting Head of Senior School, and at Sacred Heart College, before going to Epsom Girls Grammar. Fiona also did a stint teaching the Communications trainers for the New Zealand Police after the disappearance of Iraena Asher in 2004.

Fiona believes there are two keys to good education. Continuous development for teachers through the constant review of what and how we teach is essential to the ongoing improvement of outcomes for students. And for girls and young women to learn to the best of their ability, they must feel comfortable to test themselves in an environment that nurtures them and encourages challenge. Fiona’s interest in girls’ education as a precursor to women‘s leadership is evident in her participation as a foundational member of the committee for Women In Educational Leadership in New Zealand.

Fiona loves baroque music and is an inaugural member of the Advisory Board for NZ Barok, New Zealand’s authentic baroque orchestra. Fiona is an active member of Auckland Land Search and Rescue. She is quite comfortable dangling from a helicopter, crawling through dense bush or searching suburban sections in the hope of bringing the lost person home to their family. Fiona is married to Kerry Atkinson, with a large family spanning four generations, Fiona and Kerry are never at a loss for things to do at weekends and during holidays. In summer, they escape to a remote Northland beach where they indulge their twin pleasures of swimming in the surf and reading good books.


Ms Margaret Talbot Margaret Talbot

Head of Middle School

Margaret Talbot was appointed as the Head of the Middle School in 2012. She had been Assistant Principal of the College’s Junior School since 2005.

Her responsibilities include leading and developing curriculum, reporting and assessment, staff professional development, budgeting, developing education outside the classroom programmes, and staffing in the Middle School. Together with Assistant Head, Deborah Lean, Margaret also oversees the Middle School pastoral network, recognising the complexities and overlap of the pastoral and curriculum roles in the Middle School.

This year Margaret is focused on connecting with the community and to that end she has a parent drop in time every Monday from 8.00am – 8.45am (but will happily see you outside of those hours by appointment).

Prior to starting at St Cuthbert’s College, Margaret had been Head of Mathematics and ICT at Ponsonby Intermediate. She came into teaching after many years in the workforce with roles at Housing New Zealand, K-Mart, LWR, the University of Auckland and the Department of Justice. Whilst working for Bass Charrington in London she completed her Higher National Certificate in Business and Finance at Hammersmith and West London College.

In her free time Margaret is a keen (but fair weather) cyclist, tennis player and wave skier. Margaret has a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Philosophy (Management and Employment Relations), Post Graduate Diploma in Computing and a Diploma in Primary Teaching.


Ms Julie Gifkins Julie Gifkins_web

Head of Junior School

Julie Gifkins was appointed Head of Junior School in April 2013 and quickly put into action her strategic plan to develop a culture for innovation in teaching and learning, in order to build a community of learners, and to lead and develop curriculum and assessment delivery. She has implemented a new programme of student leadership opportunities in 2014, giving girls at all levels of the College the opportunity to lead.

Previously Julie has led the development of the specialist Lighthouse facility at King’s School. She was Deputy Principal at both St. Joseph’s Primary, Hamilton and Cockle Bay School, Auckland.

Julie was awarded Distinction for her Post Graduate Diploma in Educational Leadership from the University of Waikato. She also has a Bachelor of Teaching and a Diploma in Education.

Julie has a daughter, Grace, who is currently studying International Business and Law at AUT. Her son Michael attends King’s College.

She enjoys travel, dance, learning to play golf, and spending quality time with family and friends.