Ōtūmoetai Primary School principals will today apologise to a local hapū for a historic decision which saw it become a "European only" school eight decades ago.
The apology will be made at a school assembly today in the presence of two kuia who attended the school at the time of the decision.
In April 1938, Pākehā parents sent a petition to the Ōtūmoetai School Committee asking for all 42 Māori children at the primary school to be moved to Bethlehem Native School.
At the time, Māori made up more than half the school roll of 77.
According to school committee records, it discussed the possibility of making the school European only and committee members asked the secretary to write to the Department of Education putting forward this proposal.
Deputy principal Marcus Hughes told the Bay of Plenty Times parents from the Hūria or Te Reti communities were not members of the school committee so decisions about their children were made entirely by Pākehā parents and the Department of Education.
In October 1939, the Department of Education gave the committee permission to remove all Māori children from Ōtūmoetai Primary.
On November 20, 1939, 42 Ngāi Tamarāwaho children ranging from 6 to 13 years old were enrolled at Bethlehem Native School.
Ōtūmoetai Primary School was left with 35 children of European descent on its roll.
More than 80 years later, the school will apologise at a school assembly to Judea hapū Ngāi Tamarāwaho for the decision.
"Obviously the removal of hapū children from Ōtūmoetai School in 1939 is widely remembered within the hapū," Hughes said prior to the assembly.
"It is clear to us that if we are to learn anything from the wrongdoings of the past, the first step forward is to apologise.
"To teach our people well, we need not be afraid to expose the truth of our history and to also show that it is never too late to say sorry."
The apology, to be made by principal Zara McIndoe, comes as the school celebrates its 125 anniversary.