Powhiri opens new Murupara school

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

Murupara Area School is officially open following a ceremony on the school grounds.

Hundreds of children and parents witnessed the opening of their new school yesterday, with a powhiri and unveiling of the new school sign held in the courtyard.

In 2011, the Ministry of Education announced Murupara Primary School and Rangitahi College would close and merge as an area school for Years 1 to 13.

The board of trustees have been working since the middle of last year to staff, name and open the new school.

Other supporters who attended the grand opening included community members, school staff, government representatives and a handful of different schools who travelled to the Pine Drive site to show their support.

Speeches and a lunch were shared in the school hall after the ceremony, with inaugural principal Mandy Bird first addressing the crowd.

"A lot of work has been done to get us here but the main work is just beginning," she said.

"We want our students leaving at the end of Year 13 knowing what they want to do, where they want to go and that they have what they need to get there."

Mrs Bird, the former Murupara Primary School principal, said one of the strengths of the area school would be teaching students all the way through their schooling years.

"Schools with students from Year 1 to Year 13 offer a fantastic learning experience for every student. We will know our students well and will be able to give them individual attention."

Mrs Bird said the first school-wide assembly would be held today, with up to 360 students expected to be on the roll.

She said more than half of the school's 24 teachers were new to Murupara but they were already forming a tight group, which included another 18 support staff.

Rotorua's Sunset Primary School travelled all the way to Murupara yesterday to pass on their teacher of seven years, Tuihana Jack-Ansley.

Mrs Jack-Ansley, a new-entrants teacher, will be one of four teachers commuting to Murupara daily from Rotorua.

"I have never lived or worked here but I thought it would be a really interesting challenge," she said.

Board of trustees chairman Jacob Te Kurapa said there had been a number of milestones since work began to establish the school last year, but yesterday's opening would be remembered as the biggest milestone of all.

"What a fantastic day it is today to be part of a community who have got behind our project," he said.

"This is a chance to create something new and to revitalise for the community of Murupara.

"It is also the chance to provide the best for our students." He said a four-classroom building was being built at the school and planning would begin later this month to overhaul the school grounds to set up a new-look school.

He said the masterplan would cost between $10 million to $15 million.

The Murupara Area School logo was created by a former Rangitahi College student Jordan Te Aho and features a Maori greeting between two guardians, which represents the two schools merging.

The Government's decision to close and merge the two Murupara schools was partly because of declining rolls.

The uniform will be introduced in term two, with mainly royal blue and black colours as well as flashes of green and white.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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