Happy Retirement . . . Barbara Harris and Murray Harris, of Tapanui, enjoy the sun in their front garden. PHOTO: VALU MAKA

Murray Harris has always lived by the mantra: “Ask not what Tapanui can do for me but what can I do for Tapanui.”

Mr Harris’ retirement from his part-time job as a caretaker at Tapanui School has not slowed him down.

He was still doing “odd jobs” for the community to keep himself busy, he said.

“Last night I put up a swing at the school.

“If anyone needs anything done and I have the tools for it, I don’t mind helping out.”

He was involved with the RSA committee and helped with re-carpeting the building and general maintenance.

He enjoyed his time as a member of the Bloke’s Shed, the local men’s carpentry club, who built all kinds of crafts including fences and signs for the public, he said.

“It’s funny because when you actually find what you enjoy, your niche, you put all your time and effort into it.”

He enjoyed his job as the caretaker for Tapanui, he said.

“It always brought me back to people.”

He also worked as the school’s bus driver.

“Most of the children I already knew because I was the caretaker of the school but I loved doing the driving for children and most of them were well behaved.”

In previous years, Mr Harris was the West Otago swimming pool chairman and helped with renovations and health and safety standards for the building.

He was chairman of the Twizel Community Board in 1981.

One of his highlights in that role was meeting Prince Charles, he said.

“I remember introducing him to some of our members and I accidentally stepped on the side of his shoe but he didn’t flinch, he just carried on in his respectful, polite manner.”

Mr Harris and his wife Barbara moved from Twizel to Tapanui in November 1981, after he was offered a job at the Conical Hill Sawmill Forest Service, as a mechanical overseer.

He lost his job alongside many others after the sawmill closed in 1987.

He went on to work at the Forest Lodge hotel, Blue Mountain Motors Company and Dyne Transport as a logging truck driver.

The couple moved to Oamaru in 1993 after they bought a dairy and returned to Tapanui in 2003.

“The biggest thing [about Tapanui] is we thoroughly enjoyed our time here and aside from our daughters being here, there are a lot of very nice people.”