Whanganui High School's new interim leader has deep roots in the region and he also married into a family with a local legacy.

Ross Brown takes over from Garry Olver who has left for health reasons.

Ross Brown's grandfather worked for the Whanganui branch of New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company which later became Dalgety & New Zealand Loan Ltd.

"My grandfather went to the First World War as a member of the mounted rifles but when my dad Graeme went with his horse to enlist for World War Two, he was told that horses were not required so he joined the tank division."

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"When my grandfather came home from the war, he received land at Mangaweka as his returned soldier farm settlement.

"I spent my early years there and when we got older, we boarded at Palmerston North Boys' High."

When Ross Brown left school, he met his future wife Anne Millward who is the granddaughter of former Whanganui Mayor Edward Alan Millward.

"We always spent our Christmases here and I am looking forward to spending the spring and summer in Whanganui.

"I have recently spent time in Tauranga, Hamilton and Hawkes Bay and everyone was talking about how good Whanganui High School is."

Although he has spent most of his career working at boys' schools - he resigned from his long service at Napier Boys' High School in January - Mr Brown has two daughters as well as a son and said he had the interesting experience of teaching at a Californian co-ed school early in his career.

"I received a scholarship to teach in San Francisco as a young teacher" he said.

"It was at the time when most of the hippies had gone and the Vietnam war had just ended.

"I rode a horse through Silicone Valley before it became what it is now."

Mr Brown said young people have the same basic needs no matter what their gender - to be safe and feel valued so they can achieve.