The Suzanne Aubert Catholic School took another step forward this week with the turning of the first sod.

The traditional ceremony – which marks the start of the building process, was attended by the local MP and Leader of the Opposition, Todd Muller. Also in attendance were government officials, the school community and local iwi.

"This is certainly important with the school being under the patronage of Suzanne Auber, she had a great love for Maori and we want that great love that she had for Maori to be in our school," Catholic Bishop of Hamilton, Steve Lowe said.

"It's the weaving together of the story of local iwi but also the weaving of Suzanne's faith that she brought to our country."


Members of the Sisters of Compassion, which Suzanne Aubert founded in 1892, travelled from Wellington for the occasion.

"She's known for her love of the people, especially the children, parents and young mothers. That's her passion for every walk of life," said Sister Alisi Tuˊipulotu.

The turning of the sod for Suzanne Aubert Catholic School marked the start of the building process. Photo / Gavin Odgen
The turning of the sod for Suzanne Aubert Catholic School marked the start of the building process. Photo / Gavin Odgen

The land that the school will be built on is in Golden Sands and was a canny investment more than a decade ago.

"Probably 15 years ago the diocese bought land at Pāpāmoa with the thought that we'd like to build a third Catholic primary school in Tauranga. And so we finally got approval from the government for the new school last year," Tuˊipulotu said.

The government fully funds state-integrated schools like this, but only once it's built. Raising the money to build it comes from parents and the church.

"The funding for this school comes from our attendance dues. As a state-integrated school, the church has to provide the land and the buildings.

"To facilitate that parents pay attendance dues, so this is coming from the parent's dues and our Catholic school network across the country," said Lowe.

With a new principal on board and the turning of the first sod complete, Lowe said it was "all go" from here.


"Now it's flat out, we're still waiting for the last consents to come through from the city council but we're hoping the building will start this week, the earth foundation work.

"From there it's full steam ahead, we're looking for an opening of the school for term one next year."

Ninety-five per cent of places at the new school will go to children who are baptised or have a parent who's baptised in the Catholic faith.

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