Former Tairangi School principal Terry Ryan thought he would have a peaceful retirement, but soon found himself in another key community role as head of the Porirua Community Guardians.
Mr Ryan took over as manager of the Guardians at the end of last year, after a friend convinced him to apply for the role.
‘‘I wasn’t looking for a job. I was happily retired doing woodwork and visiting my grandchildren,’’ he says.
However, the 66- year- old from Paremata has a strong sense of community service, so made the call to don the green hi-vis vest.
‘‘I’ve always had the belief that if you take something from the community, you should give something back,’’ he says. ‘‘It’s just like teaching in many respects, it’s interacting with the community, trying to help people out,’’ Mr Ryan says.
The Guardians’ role is to make Porirua a friendlier and safer place, keeping an eye out for trouble and offering assistance where they can.
‘‘The Guardians’ role is to be the eyes and ears,’’ Mr Ryan says.
‘‘Young people know we’re a nonthreatening group, they can approach Guardians knowing they’ll be listened to and have their questions answered, even about illegal stuff.’’
On a typical day the Guardians might witness a car prang in Cobham Court, stepping in if tempers get heated or passing numberplate details on to police.
After school gets out the Guardians watch out for skateboarders under the canopies, and they regularly check cars are locked and don’t have valuables on display.
The group’s role extends beyond the city centre too. They patrol eastern Porirua streets day and night, and control traffic at community events such as Creekfest and the Festival of the Elements.
‘‘We don’t get many phone calls to say thanks very much, we just hope people appreciate what we do,’’ Mr Ryan says.
One of Mr Ryan’s goals is to increase volunteer numbers; only 20 people are currently on board.
All ages are welcome to volunteer, and Mr Ryan is keen to get representation from all over the city.
‘‘I’m a little bit bemused that we don’t have many from outside the Porirua East community as volunteers,’’ he says.
Being a Guardian gives people a good buzz, Mr Ryan says.
‘‘It’s not a case of wandering around in green and getting sore feet, you can get a lot of positive reaction.’’
To volunteer for the Guardians call Terry Ryan on 238 2510
Giving back: Former Tairangi School principal Terry Ryan decided to serve the community in his retirement, taking over as head of the Porirua Community Guardians last December.
In his element: Plimmerton Kindergarten kid and part-time lobster Tom Henderson, 3, is raring to participate in this year’s mid-winter dip fundraiser.