By: Zizi Sparks

Chairwoman of the board of the directors Marita Ranclaud (left) with Te Taumata early childhood education team leader Melanie Davis and Te Rangihakahaka principal Renee Gillies. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Rotorua’s first partnership school has celebrated its official opening with a dawn ceremony attended by more than 200 people.

Te Rangihakahaka Centre for Science and Technology was officially opened on January 27, with the school term starting today.

The school will be governed by Ngati Whakaue’s education arm, the Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho-Ake Trust, which previously said support for the school had been phenomenal.

The official opening started with a pre-dawn karakia at 4.30am on Saturday. Students-to-be planted native trees on the school grounds.

The trust’s general manager, Roana Bennett, said it was a “significant event”.

“It was lovely getting all the whanau together and celebrating the opening of something quite significant for Ngati Whakaue: our school,” Bennett said.

Te Rangihakahaka Centre for Science and Technology is based on Dinsdale St. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Bennett said a highlight of the opening was the karakia tawhito (series of prayers) which took place as the attendees walked through the new school.

“We had two people reciting the karakia and we started outside and we followed them all the way through the building. With a group of 200 you can imagine how long the tail was,” she said.

“The highlight was to participate in that karakia. It was quite an intense ceremony and it lasted a good 40 minutes.”

Bennett said she was also happy to see people from a wide range of backgrounds at the opening.

Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho-Ake Trust trustee Maureen Jehly (left) with Professor Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, an adviser to Te Rangihakahaka. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

“It wasn’t just family, there was a wide range of support groups from Te Arawa and Ngati Whakaue including some of our academics,” she said.

“It was good to know we had the level of support we did.

“It was just a wonderful day and we look forward to the first term at Te Rangihakahaka.”

At the beginning of January the school was at capacity with 80 students and was already looking at a second intake in Term Two.

The school will cater for Years 1 to 10 and plans to grow to 200 students by 2020.

The school is Rotorua’s first partnership school and will be based in a building on Dinsdale St the iwi has named the Turipuku Campus.

The trust has appointed five registered teachers for the school as well as support staff.

Once school starts it will cover the full New Zealand curriculum but with a focus on science and technology, teaching literacy and other learning areas through science topics defined in Maori terms such as whakapapa (genetics) and ahuwhenua (agriculture).

Renee Gillies will be the school pou matangirua or principal.

Source: Rotorua Daily Post

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