School gains teacher and film buff in one
Palmerston North is set to lose its biggest Star Trek fan, a longtime teacher and quite possibly its most prolific movie-goer, to Timaru - and all in one fell swoop.
Dedicated Star Trek memorabilia collector and film buff Ross Stevenson is migrating south after more than 20 years of teaching at Palmerston North Boys' High School.
The English and media studies teacher will leave an empty seat in Palmerston North's cinemas: he estimates he goes to the movies about 120 times a year.
With the school year wrapped, Mr Stevenson is preparing to pack up his family and belongings - including a room full of Star Trek collectibles, six shelves of DVDs, two pinball machines and a couple of cats - to take up his new position as deputy rector at Timaru Boys' High School.
Mr Stevenson is well-known in film circles as the vice president of the New Zealand Film Society, president of its Palmerston North branch and regular film taster for the Manawatu Standard and radio station The Breeze.
He picked out Palmerston North Boys' High in a newspaper advertisement in 1991 and travelled up for an interview with then principal David Syms.
"He offered me the job on the day of the interview. They must have been desperate," he quipped.
Highlights at the school included film-making sessions with his media classes.
"I enjoyed seeing students really put an effort into it and get something out of it.
"It was very challenging but rewarding for them."
Mr Stevenson has been a "foot-soldier" for the New Zealand Film Festival in Palmerston North and has been a major force keeping it here, watching at least 40 films every festival.
While he prefers French film classics from the 1950s, he names B-grade war flick Red Dawn, starring Patrick Swayze, as a guilty pleasure.
Unfortunately, Timaru has no film society and this means Mr Stevenson will have to step aside from his New Zealand Film Society vice-presidency.
But Mr Stevenson will watch the first of The Hobbit films in 3-D at Downtown Cinemas in Palmerston North before heading for Timaru.