Children are the centre of Gary Dent's universe.
However, the failing health of the Waitara East School principal means he can no longer do what he loves doing best - being part of the school community.
Mr Dent has been at the helm of the school for 10 years but has had to leave after being diagnosed with cancer last year.
He told the Taranaki Daily News that it was hard to leave the school and he would miss the children and their families.
"A lot of people say things like it might be hard at Waitara East, with all the Maori kids but that's just rubbish," he said. "These kids, if given the chance, can excel. I loved it here."
Mr Dent also said life was about people. "Life's not about things. When I came here, the thing that I appreciated the most was the whanau, the children and their families."
An emotional farewell was given by the school yesterday to see off their principal.
Puketapu School principal Mike Johnson and Waitara High School head boy Teariki Simpson were the among guest speakers invited to share their memories of Mr Dent.
Mr Johnson said that Mr Dent, a former Marfell Community School student, was "one very Taranaki man".
"It has been great to have someone ring up and talk blokes' stuff and anything else that was politically grumpy," he said.
Teariki said he was a "very shy boy" when he first started at Waitara East. "A huge thank you to you Mr Dent, for encouraging me to be the young man I am today."
Board of trustees chairwoman Lyn Doody said there was no task that was too big for Mr Dent.
"Nowhere in your job description did it read you had to clean out blocked toilets, or blocked sewers, climb roofs, be the clown in the Drown the Clown at the galas, deliver phone books."
- Taranaki Daily News
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