Chris Anderson, a former builder turned businessman, stood up in front of the school, opened his briefcase and tipped a pile of crisp banknotes out on to a table. The pupils gasped.
"That's $1 million cash," he grinned. "Australian dollars."
Mr Anderson, 38, had been a struggling builder when he left New Zealand.
Fifteen years on, he and his wife have amassed a $50m (pound;20m) fortune that ranks them 29th on an Australian paper's rich list of young Australians.
Mr Anderson recently sold their six-bedroom Brisbane mansion for $2.3m and is building a bigger luxury mansion on a $1.16m vacant block just a few doors up the street.
As he prepared to fly home to Brisbane, his carry-on baggage prompted probing questions from the New Zealand customs service. They were perturbed to discover the $1m (pound;400,000) in his briefcase. Luckily, when they phoned Whakatane high school, the principal verified Mr Anderson's story.
Whether one of Britain's richest businessmen would dare carry pound;1m into a school here, let alone tip it out on to a table in front of pupils, remains to be seen.