Charles Oliver said goodbye to Whanganui Intermediate School on Friday, the same school he started teaching at in 1973 and the same one he has been principal at since 2001.

It wasn't just the school he farewelled, Oliver retired from being a principal, signalling an end to his 45 year career in education.

Students and staff celebrated his time there at a special school assembly on Friday afternoon, where songs were sung, speeches were made and gifts were given.

Proceedings opened with a mihimihi from Mike Paki, followed by a waiata and then Oliver was presented with a piece of ceramic art before addressing the school.

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"It's been a long time, this is my very last assembly and it's true, I've been at this school longer than I've been at any other school, and I have taught at a lot of them," Oliver said.

"I've been here the longest because I have a special love for this school. What got me here each day was knowing I was going to have a chance to talk to you guys.

"I am amazed at what wonderful young people you are, that's what always attracted me to this age group."

Oliver shared a story about the artwork titled Around Buoys.

Charles Oliver shows off his ceramic art gift as he addresses Whanganui Intermediate School students for the last time. Photo / Bevan Conley
Charles Oliver shows off his ceramic art gift as he addresses Whanganui Intermediate School students for the last time. Photo / Bevan Conley

"It is made by some artists in Northland, it was ordered in and it is really quite lovely," he said.

"My wife liked this, she liked it very much, but unfortunately the people that make these weren't able to make one in time for her presentation.

"So I had a look at it, I loved it too and I thought 'right, I'll have this one ... and she won't.'"

The school hall was almost at capacity and everyone burst out laughing with Oliver.

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Deputy principal Darren Torrie will be the acting principal of Whanganui Intermediate in term three before Castlecliff School's Katherine Ellery takes over in term four.

Oliver explained his decision to retire mid-year.

"The end of the year is a really busy time for us. It is when I do the budgets for next year, check all the reports for parents and do all of the returns to the Ministry of Education.

"I just thought 'I don't want to do that ...'

"No, truthfully, if I stayed until the end of the year and I did the budget for next year, the new principal would have to come in and live with it. I was very determined that the person that takes over from me will have some time to get their feet under the table before they have to rush in and make massive changes."

In retirement, Oliver was looking forward to traveling with his wife Shona and had already planned trips to the United States and Australia.

He would also be spending some time relaxing on his boat that hasn't seen enough water and trying to lower his golf handicap.

"I can walk away from this school really, really proud," Oliver said.

"I have absolutely loved being a school principal and I have loved being an educator."