Waitotara School principal Jane Corcoran is like a proud mother when she talks about her school.

"This year is the biggest roll ever. We have 29 students.''

The small rural school is set in a lush green environment that would be the envy of many.

As well as sturdy trees for climbing (and these children are allowed to climb the trees), there are fun play forts in the bush.


"We are set up for the outdoor games all kids love. Our children are never bored here,'' she laughed.

Waitotara School has been operating since 1874, accommodating the learning needs of students from years 1 to 8.

The school had been fully refurbished following the floods of February 2004 and upgraded frequently.

The small school, with its pretty surroundings, is adjacent to the township of Waitotara, just off State Highway 3.

"We are very lucky because our school has a very supportive community."

Jane admits she's pretty much on go every day at school.

From teaching, answering the phone, replying to emails and paying staff, there are many duties connected to running the school.

"But these days community helpers arrive and take over duties like driving the school van, working as teacher aide and take a club every second Friday afternoon.

Their volunteer clubs include cricket, hockey and even a Lego club.

"I'm officially the principal but I spend 70 per cent of my time teaching and have to cram all my principal's duties into the other 30 per cent," she said.

Jane says she is passionate about her job and loves being at Waitotara School.

"This is an amazing community. We have a very supportive board . It really is community and whanau always supporting each other. And we have retired people who always help us out. One lovely man makes wooden games for the school.''

Even trimming the hedges, weeding and mowing is all done by the community.

"It's all voluntary. We are extremely lucky. That's why we have lovely kids.''