Steve Hargreaves has big shoes to fill.
His predecessor, Byron Bentley, spent 18 years at the helm of Macleans College before retiring at the end of last year.
To follow on from that is “a little bit daunting” says Mr Hargreaves.
“Byron’s so widely respected and he’s lead incredibly well for a long period of time. He’s the sort of person the Minister [of Education] would call and seek an opinion from.”
While he’s new to the principal’s seat, he’ll be well familiar with the rest of the school — he spent 13 years there as a maths and economics teacher and a period in senior management before taking up the role of principal at Wesley College in 2015.
He says it wasn’t easy to leave Wesley, where he felt he had settled in and was making progress.
“It’s the kind of school where you really become a part of the place and the kids there are so open and interesting that you just become part of the family…leaving was really hard.
“Last week when they came up to our [Macleans] assembly here and did a pōwhiri handover, I got quite choked up.”
But he’s looking forward to being closer to his family again.
“I was driving 40km down the road to Pukekohe every day, I never saw my kids. It’s crazy [to think] I could go three or four days and not see them at all…I’d leave before they woke up in the morning and get home at bedtime.
“I felt like I failed as a dad,” he said.
Now he’s back at Macleans, he’s ready to make his mark.
“[I’d like to] change the culture of the school a little bit, beyond the focus on high performance.
“Everyone knows Macleans for their grades and we just keep producing kids who deliver at the very highest level academically and we are proud of that but I want to make sure we are producing kids that have the values and attributes that will make them successful in all aspects of their life beyond school,” he says.
“Grades are important but what we need is people that are open minded, can communicate, they can adapt, they’re resilient and I want to make sure we’re focusing on all aspects — that holistic approach.”
He’s now spent 20 years in education and it’s hard to imagine this man doing anything else –but he hadn’t always planned on teaching.
After graduating from university he worked for Telecom in New Zealand and in the finance department of NBC Television in London before deciding to head to teachers college in his late 20s.
“And the rest is history,” he smiles. “It’s the best thing I ever did.”
“Schools are awesome places to work. Kids are just…you get so much energy from them and there’s always something interesting happening.
“You can come into work on a wet, cold, rainy Tuesday in winter and then the first interaction you have with a student just brightens your day.”