Road leads home for former Oamaru man

You can take the man out of the town but you can’t take the town out of the man.

That is the case for former St Joseph’s School principal Murray Munro, who is glad to be spending some time back in Oamaru after leaving 13 years ago.

Originally from Southland, he and his wife Katrina – a former Oamaru woman – decided they would call Oamaru their home when they moved to the town in 1981.

Of all things, it was the weather that inspired them to shift, he said.

After dragging his boots through the mud during the rugby season in Southland the previous year, Mr Munro arrived in Oamaru while on a cricket pre-season tour, at a time when the area was experiencing a drought.

Once he returned to Southland, both he and his wife agreed it was time to start a new life together in North Otago.

“That must’ve been in October – we were here by the January,” he said.

Mr Munro started as a teacher at Oamaru Intermediate School before moving to St Joseph’s School, where he taught for eight years.

After a four-year hiatus from teaching at St Joseph’s, he came back as principal of the school for 11 years.

Seeking a lifestyle change after 20 “wonderful” years of living in Oamaru, the couple decided to move to Dunedin, where Mr Munro became a hostel manager at John McGlashan College for 13 years until his retirement just over two years ago.

“It was very challenging at the start, then just sheer pleasure for the 10 years of it,” he said.

“I made a lot of very good friends all over Otago and Southland due to my time there.”

Now he works part-time as a tourist bus driver, taking tourists from cruise ships in Port Chalmers to popular spots across Oamaru and North Otago.

Mr Munro said he loved the job because he got to meet a variety of interesting people and he got to travel back to the place he considered his home away from home.

“It’s a fun job,” he said.

“It’s a good wee challenge that I thoroughly enjoy.”

Since coming back to Oamaru regularly, Mr Munro said he had enjoyed getting back in touch with his old friends and work colleagues.

He did not know what he would do beyond his work with the buses, but planned to take life one day at a time.

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