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Retirement a new dawn for Te Wharau principal

School is nearly out for retiring Te Wharau principal Steve Berezowski.

After 45 years in education, Mr Berezowski is ready to spend more time with family, on the golf course and bowling greens, travelling and reading.

“I am going to ride off into the sunrise to a new dawn with my partner Lorraine Donnelly — who has had to put up with me working long hours — spend more time with my mokopuna and then there's some ‘me' time and some travelling when it's allowed.”

Mr Berezowski wants to take his partner to Canada to show her where he was born and raised.

He moved from the land of maple syrup to New Zealand in 1972 and completed his sixth form year in Wellington.

Teaching wasn't his first career choice.

“My first choice was accountancy but I found the people so boring that I couldn't see myself surviving in the job, so I went to what I thought was a more exciting job.

“It was always in the back of my mind to be a teacher.”

Mr Berezowski worked in accountancy at New Zealand Breweries before making the jump to education and gaining his teaching degree in 1979.

He started at Wainuiomata Intermediate at the beginning of the 80s and his first principal role was at Wellington's Hataitai School.

Mr Berezowski wanted to move to Gisborne over 20 years ago when he and then-partner Shirley-Anne visited the East Coast during a tour around the North Island. The pair wanted a change from Wellington.

“Upon return, we found out she had breast cancer and we had a four-year battle, so that idea of shifting to Gisborne disappeared.”

Shirley-Anne lost her battle with cancer but two years later Mr Berezowski still wanted to shift to the East Coast, so when a job came up at Te Wharau School, he inquired about it. He half-filled in the application form but never finished it.

“Come closing day, I thought, ‘I blew it, why didn't I apply?'

“I was upset with myself. Then a week later I got a letter from the board of trustees saying there had been no quality applicants and they asked if I could apply.”

He got the job and come December 15 will have been at Te Wharau School for 20 years.

Te Wharau staff say Mr Berezowski has been an amazing leader and strong supporter of his teachers.

“His voice as a principal will be a great loss for Te Tairāwhiti as his voice was always clear and challenging,” staff said in a statement to The Herald.

“Steve has maintained balance in his life with a beautiful supportive whanau and growing mokopuna, He is a competitor on the bowling green and supports all sports.

“We as a school, whanau and community wish him all the best for his retirement.”

Mr Berezowski said the students made Te Wharau special.

“They're charming. They really appreciate what you do for them.

“They are warm and caring but they also have that little glint in their eye that keeps you challenged and keeps you on your toes.”

Mr Berezowski's last day at the helm is Friday.

SAILING AWAY: Te Wharau School principal Steve Berezowski with students Sheila Bjerring (8) Molly Thomas (5) Jahquan Matete (11) and Ururoa Matete-Kerekere (8). Mr Berezowski is retiring after 20 years at Te Wharau and 45 in the education system. Picture by Liam Clayton