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600,000km milestone: Teacher spends 20 years driving Tauranga to Rotorua for work

Author
Kelly Makiha, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 1 Jun 2023, 12:53PM
Dave Parry loves his Rotorua teaching job so much, he has travelled from Tauranga every day for 20 years. Photo / Andrew Warner
Dave Parry loves his Rotorua teaching job so much, he has travelled from Tauranga every day for 20 years. Photo / Andrew Warner

600,000km milestone: Teacher spends 20 years driving Tauranga to Rotorua for work

Author
Kelly Makiha, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 1 Jun 2023, 12:53PM

Devastating slips, tedious roadworks, some idiot drivers, months of detours and long queues of commuters - they aren’t enough to keep Rotorua Intermediate teacher Dave Parry away from the job he loves.

Staying at the same workplace for 20 years is pretty impressive but for “Mr Parry”, he’s been extra committed by commuting to Rotorua every day for two decades from his Tauranga home.

Parry has just celebrated 20 years at Rotorua Intermediate as the design engineering teacher. In true teacher fashion, he’ quickly whips up the sums to tell us that equates to having travelled about 600,000km during that time.

The English ex-pat moved with his family to New Zealand in 1995. A trained secondary school teacher, Parry worked at Tauranga Boys’ High School before the opportunity to join the Rotorua Intermediate Pathways team came up.

Pathways classes are offered at intermediate level and help students learn additional skills such as cooking, woodwork, music, coding and science.

Dave Parry has clocked up 20 years at Rotorua Intermediate - travelling from Tauranga every day. Photo / Andrew Warner

Dave Parry has clocked up 20 years at Rotorua Intermediate - travelling from Tauranga every day. Photo / Andrew Warner

Parry said he had family commitments in Tauranga and, although for a fleeting minute, he considered moving about 13 years, since then it’s never entered his mind.

He likes to rise and shine early at 5.30am (thanks to a cat that wakes him up) and hits the road by 6.15am. He’s among the first on the staff to get to school at 7.30am and starts the day having beaten most of the traffic.

A couple of mornings a week he takes Rotorua Intermediate students for futsal trainings and at the end of the day it’s usually straight home after the bell rings, safely back in Tauranga before the 5pm rush.

At a time when teaching staff are in demand, why does Parry spend money and time going to Rotorua every day?

For him the answer is simple. He loves the kids - especially the age group and especially Rotorua Intermediate.

“This age, they are still kids. For instance, we have got a football team and we might have lost a game and be a bit upset. I just need to say, ‘Let’s have an icecream’ and boom, it’s all forgotten.”

Principal Garry de Thierry said the school was thrilled to have Parry on staff and he had become a character on the team and was adored by students.

“He’s here early in the morning every day, he coaches futsal and the big thing is the kids love him. He’s got a great personality and we like to have him out the front of school on the crossing because the kids walk by and high-five him and it’s just that acknowledgement he gives.”

Parry said the staff were grateful for his long commitment to travelling each day - even when Tauranga Direct Rd was being sealed, which lasted several months. During that time, he still came every day and travelled State Highway 27 through Matamata.

Parry said he initially thought he would only last a couple of years commuting but the students and Rotorua Intermediate staff changed his mind.

“Garry makes a difference because he appreciates the Pathways team. For some kids, this is the best part of intermediate school.”

So, for now, Parry will keep picking up his keys each morning and pushing play on his 80s music for the drive ahead because in his eyes, when you love your job, why change?

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