“He is the first one here in the morning and he’s the last one here at night.”
“We still have kids that come back to the office that are no longer kids … and they come back because they want to see Mr Field.”
“You have made my years at Bethlehem Primary School amazing.”
That’s what students and teachers of Tauranga’s Bethlehem School said of their beloved principal Brian Field.
Today is Field’s last day in the job. He's retiring after 26 years of service at the school.
His career began at Wellington Teacher's College in 1976. Then he started his first teaching job at Whakatāne Intermediate in 1979. His first principal's position was at Mokau School in Taranaki in 1988 and he has held principal roles for the last 35 years — longer than he's been a teacher.
The humble man initially applied for the job at Bethlehem in 1995 because he wanted to seek a challenge.
“At the time, we knew the school was going to grow. And it has done over the long time I’ve been here,” Field told Breakfast.
In his time, the school’s teaching staff grew from six to 23.
“It’s a school I haven’t had to really look for other schools for more challenges.”
Field said he'd been fortunate to work in such a wonderful community.
He added: “Tauranga, why would you want to move?”
As he spoke, his students began to gather around him without him knowing.
When Field turned around, his school honoured him with a powerful haka that moved him to tears.
Watch the full interview and haka in the videos above.