One of Tauranga's longest-serving educators is retiring after 45 years in the profession. During his time at Otumoetai College, he would have taught "thousands" of Tauranga students, as well as reshaping how the subject of history is taught on a national scale. Caroline Fleming sits down with Bruce Farthing to find out a bit more about his long career.
Bruce Farthing always wanted to be a teacher.
He loved school growing up - from playing hockey to mixing chemicals in the science lab to researching history in the library, he knew it was the place for him.
His parents thought differently though. They believed his talents would be better suited to a job as a lawyer.
But a tedious stint in a law firm as a teenager quickly ruled that out. It was just days after this work experience that he enrolled to become a teacher and he never looked back.
Forty-five years later he is leaving the job sad but feeling enriched to have been able to teach thousands of Tauranga's students.
Farthing has spent 35 of these years at Otumoetai College, 21 of them as deputy principal.
So what's his secret to success? "Help everyone in the school do their jobs better" - whether that be overseeing things, boosting the school morale or just lending a helping hand, Farthing says he has always been busy and in demand.
One thing that has motivated him has been watching light-bulb moments when suggesting how a perspective change could enrich a colleague's teaching style and seeing students come from the bottom to achieve highly.
But it's Farthing's passion in the performing arts and social sciences, specifically history, where his eyes truly light up.
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He directed and produced some of Tauranga's top school productions, saying it is something he has always had a knack and soft spot for since a young boy.
His love for history developed later on when he was the Head of Department in social sciences at Waitakere College in West Auckland and Otumoetai College.
He loves how in history there is never "a right or wrong" and a historian is essentially "a lawyer of the past".
Farthing played a huge role in shaping the way history was taught to students across the country and encouraged students to research history in their own way.
Over the years, he has loved watching students grow and develop, and even dropped in that he had taught cricketer Trent Boult.
He will never forget igniting a fire and love for economics for a student who later became a bank chief executive.
Farthing put the moral success of Otumoetai College down to having their special needs students at the centre of the school.
"How we look after our most vulnerable members of the school speaks volumes about the school itself."
His career allowed Farthing to do some amazing things, such as watching a Cambridge University organ recital in England through a connection of a past student, being awarded a Woolf Fisher Fellowship and chairing a number of pivotal education-based organisations.
However, although his work was a huge part of his life and his tight-knit family would joke that it was all he did - there are a number of loves he has had outside of the workplace too.
One of his main ones is wife Kay, who has also been a teacher for almost 40 years.
The pair met as junior teachers in Auckland after living there for only one week and were married not long afterward.
When Farthing was first offered the job in Tauranga, neither of them had ever slept a night in the city.
The couple had four daughters, with one even choosing to head into teaching alongside her parents.
Farthing is also quite an outdoorsy time.
He has a green thumb when it comes to the garden, has hiked in almost every corner of the world and even regularly gets out in his kayak.
When asked his biggest regret in life, he says it is difficult to know as he genuinely feels as though everything in his life got him to the position he is in now.
Farthing says he had entered the workforce hoping to make a difference anywhere he could but says that hasn't happened with Maori student achievement rates.
He says the rates have not significantly improved and this is something he has always wanted to work on.
"That really is a major regret to me."
During his time at Otumoetai College, Farthing worked under three principals who, he says, were like "chalk and cheese" but all had the welfare of the students as their main focus.
Current principal Russell Gordon says Farthing insisted his farewell assembly was held the week before to not interrupt anyone's holidays, which reflected his character well.
Farthing's "dedication to teaching" and the way he "shaped the education landscape" is inspiring to all teachers, Gordon says.
Farthing's leadership, empathy and support would be hard to match for both students and staff.
Dave Randell, a past Otumoetai principal who worked with Farthing for 18 years, says his former deputy would be a major loss to the school.
He says Farthing was his "right-hand man" and when it came to deputy principals, he was definitely "one of the best".
"There is only one Bruce in this world."
Farthing knew everybody and has been so loved by everybody, always spending time with past teachers and students who were fond of him, he says.
And his heart of gold and commitment to the school will be missed.
Peter Malcolm was the principal of the college in 1984 and appointed Farthing as Head of the Social Sciences Department from Waitakere College.
He had heard plenty of good things about Farthing before hiring him and relied on this advice.
"He did not disappoint."
Malcolm says Farthing always worked hard and had such a great network of people he had formed relationships with.
A fond memory of Malcolm's was a story Farthing told a staff meeting one morning where he was in the toilets at the New Plymouth Airport and turned to the man next to him in the urinal and realised they knew of each other, so he introduced himself right there and then.
Malcolm said there was shocked silence in the room before the entire staff cracked up.
He says "if you ever wanted something done, you gave it to the busy person" and that was always Farthing.
A past student-teacher of Farthing's and now principal of Onslow College, Sheena Millar, says "he always put the welfare of others and people first".
She says she will never forget the support he gave the English Department when one of the teachers fell ill.
"It wasn't just words, it was being a reliever, delivering food, making sure people were okay. He cared and you knew he cared."
Other past colleagues described him as "unique", "hard-working", "a mischief-maker" and totally "irreplaceable".
He said nonetheless, the school was ready for some new ideas and focus.
Greg Burnard now steps into the role and Farthing says the "school is in safe hands".
"I'm going to take the rest of the year to myself and smell the roses for a while."
But he said he will definitely jump back into his organisations and keep involved in education where he can next year.
Farthing is off on a four-week retirement trip around the country, booked by his family on Monday.
In true Farthing style, he will not be bored for a second as he visits past students he kept in contact with, along with past colleagues, friends and family.
Five things you might not know about Bruce Farthing:
1. His wife and himself have over 80 years of teaching experience between them.
2. He has hiked mountain ranges in both Poland and Slovakia, among many other places in the world.
3. He started learning the classical piano at the age 5.
4. He has four daughters, who have all gone into public service professions.
5. One of his pride and joys is his holiday home on the shores of Lake Taupo.