A local principal with a career spanning half a century has decided it is finally time to hang up his hat.

Kaingaroa Primary School principal Michael Jones has spent the last 50 years as an educator to both children and adults.

He was the first manager of the 1983 Children's Health Camp and established the first private teachers' training centre in New Zealand.

He's taught and held principal positions at schools all around the country, including Rotorua's St Mary's Catholic Primary School and Murupara's Tawhiuau before it became a Te Kura Kaupapa Maori school.


Mr Jones has spent the past 13 years at Kaingaroa Primary School.

While he enjoyed his time overseeing schools and teaching generations of children, Mr Jones said he was excited to be retiring.

"I've stayed in education so long because I love children. I love helping them learn and I've had a lot of fun doing that. But I am definitely ready to retire. I am looking forward to spending time with my family and doing some travelling."

Mr Jones also has his sights set on writing a book about his experiences teaching in New Zealand.

"It wouldn't be a serious look at education or anything like that; I've just always loved the idea of writing a book about my experiences - all the ups and downs during my 50 years in the sector."

He said it was hard leaving the pupils at Kaingaroa, many of whom cried at the news of his departure. "I really bonded with those children. I enjoyed the rural, Maori environment and the type of children out there."

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But it was not all smooth sailing for the teaching veteran. "I actually almost threw the whole gig in after my first year of teaching. I battled my way through the first year, but at the end I started thinking 'I don't know if I want to do this.'

"I was then offered a job teaching at a little school in Waiohau and the pupils there truly inspired me. I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be."