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Seaview’s and security alarms: Life as a TGS caretaker

Flagstaff Team

Ross Chapman never got used to waking up in the middle of the night to deal with security alarms going off at Takapuna Grammar School (TGS). 

Gone surfing… Ross Chapman has stepped down after 35 years as caretaker at Takapuna Grammar School

Departing after 35 years as school caretaker, he has also had enough of dealing with one or two other regular chores.

“I won’t miss the tagging appearing on the walls or opening classrooms on the weekends because someone forgot their shoes,” he says with a laugh. 

But the 62-year-old also takes with him many fond memories of his years at the school, particularly those spent living on-site in the caretaker’s house overlooking the Hauraki Gulf – which meant  never having to drive to work.   

“It was a great place to bring up my kids and I really enjoyed coaching the rugby teams and running the swimming pool,” he says.

His long commitment to the school has brought him into contact with generations of students and families.

Chapman’s love for sport started when he attended TGS as a student between 1970 and 1974. He played rugby for the first XV, eventually becoming captain. He particularly enjoyed the team’s trips to play in competitions in Australia.

He remembers being in detention one day with his mate Grant Davidson when the  principal at the time, former All Black Jack Kelly, came storming into the room. To their surprise, he took them outside and taught them how to pass a rugby ball.

When Chapman became caretaker in 1984, he began coaching sports teams at the school. He coached one under-15 boys rugby team to a North Harbour title. 

His job meant dealing with alarms and intruders at all hours. 

He recalls once jumping on his bicycle to pursue two young men in the middle of the night.

“Oi! What are you doing?” he shouted before leaping off his bike to apprehend them. One turned out to be a student at the school. 

Along with the chance to enjoy nights of unbroken sleep, Chapman is looking forward to taking a break from work to spend more time with his children Ainsley, 36, Sam, 33, and Grace, 29, and to look after his grandchildren.

He also wants to travel in New Zealand with his wife Pam in their caravan for a couple of months and spend plenty of time surfing.

This article originally appeared in the 13 March 2020 edition of the Devonport Flagstaff.