Tom Paekau has some big shoes to fill as the new principal of Merivale School.
His predecessor, Jan Tinetti, left the role after making it Parliament as a list MP. He is hoping his "fresh approach" will help to raise the profile of the primary school even more.
Paekau said the community supported the school and Tinetti and he hoped to continue to strengthen those bonds.
"I feel very privileged; there are some very big shoes to fill," he said. "But hopefully I can bring my own spin on things and take the school further along its journey."
"We are aiming to be the best school in Tauranga. We have known in the past there are struggles within this community, but there are struggles in every community," Paekau said.
"We want to be able to say while we do have our issues and our struggles in this community, this school is a great school."
The 41-year-old principal said he had shared similar struggles being brought up by a single mother and hoped to become a male Maori role model for the children in the Merivale community.
Paekau's parents divorced when he was a child, and his mother worked two jobs to help raise him and his sisters.
"I think one of the biggest things for my sisters and I was the importance of having whanau [family] support," Paekau said.
Throughout his childhood, Paekau said, he had built close relationships with his mother's brothers and cousins and saw himself as having "four or five dads".
"One of mum's first cousins is like my best friend and Dad rolled up into one," Paekau said.
"Having that male role model has led me to see that coming into this community I can be the constant for a lot of these children and be a strong male Maori role model for them too."
Paekau has been in the education sector for 18 years in the Bay of Plenty.
He began teaching at Te Puke Intermediate before accepting his first principal role at Rangiuru School in 2008 where he has been for the past nine years.
Outside of school, Paekau played guitar in a local covers band called Left Hand Break, which performed gigs at corporate events after exploring the pub scene for many years.
"I love music, and I love sports," Paekau said.
The Ministry of Education says of the 68 schools and kura in Tauranga and Western Bay, 15 had a change of principal last year.
Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty schools had eight new principals at the start of this year.
The ministry's deputy secretary of sector enablement and support, Katrina Casey, said the ministry provided support to leaders in each region through contracted leadership advisers who provided tailored support and guidance to both beginning and experienced principals.
"We know that the first term in this role or in a new school is a busy and challenging time for any principal and want to ensure there is access to professional support required for this important job," she said.
"Supporting these principals is a priority for our leadership advisers."
Five things about Tom Paekau:
1. He loves music and sport and plays in a local covers band.
2. He is a family man, a father to 5-year-old twins and a 3-year-old.
3. He was a very young principal when he started.
4. He is great at forming relationships with people.
5. He has a great sense of humour.
Fifteen Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty schools had a change of principal in 2017:
•Pyes Pa School
•Tauranga Adventist School
•Te Wharekura o Mauao
•Mount Maunganui College
•Tauranga Girls College