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Life on the job: Caring for Ohinewai School.

September 25, 2017

Ohinewai School caretaker Allan Powell is the man behind keeping the grounds spick and span.

He's only required to be at the Ohinewai School five days of the working week. Yet Allan Powell is often there on his days off. He's there checking that everything is in place and no trouble has been caused. The school caretaker of 15 years takes pride in keeping the school looking spick and span. "I just like coming to the school daily...who knows, maybe it's old school dedication," he said.

In the mornings he will work on maintenance and the afternoons are about cleaning.

Powell says his job is about keeping the children safe. "It's probably health and safety, for the kids knowing they can come to a safe school.

He's asked all sorts of funny questions by the children. One day he was seen without his hat and was questioned why he had no hair. The 63-year old Huntly resident was unemployed before picking up the job. He had been out of the workforce for about a year after working long hours as a bus driver, some of his routes included picking up school students. "I've been part of kids' lives for donkey's years."The only reason I finished that, was being a solo dad, I wanted to spend time with the kids."

He knew the principal who offered him the job and so he jumped at the chance. The father to three started the position when his youngest also enrolled at the school. "I just carried on, I don't take days off, I don't get sick... it's been a long journey but it keeps going."It's only natural to witness a number of changes throughout that amount of time in a job. At the school, there's been a few principals come and go, each different from the last, he said.

And technology has come into play, particularly with the pool cleaning system which has meant it stays blue all year round instead of turning green in the winter. Perhaps the best of all was a change in grass mowing methods. "Back in the early day we used to mow lawns with a push mower... [then] we decided to get a ride-on mower, that was the best thing we had ever done."

While his daily routine as caretaker starts at 9am, he is also the school bus driver from Huntly to Ohinewai. "When I drive the bus, I shut aside the school, the bus is for the kids to get to and from school safely."Kids ask me if I enjoy driving the bus, and yeah I do, it's about safety for me."

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