A principal fears school rezoning in Pāpāmoa and Mount Maunganui will prevent future generations of students deeply rooted in the Arataki community from attending their local school.
Community consultation is under way after the Ministry of Education announced enrolment zones would change next year in both suburbs.
While the proposal is backed by many other principals, Arataki School principal Shelley Blakey said the changes would split part of the community from the school and could also cause safety issues for students.
"Our biggest concern is the identity of our school and how our community operates. It is who we are. Families have lived here for generations, and it is part of our rich makeup and history. To exclude an area just feels wrong to us.
"We have students whose grandparents went to this school. It is really unique and we treasure that."
Proposed changes to the school's enrolment zone included two options, both of which would cut out the area surrounding Taupo Ave to Concord Ave and around Mangatawa Lane and Truman Rd.
The first option for Arataki School shows its zone extending to Sandhurst Dr, which Blakey also opposes.
The area surrounding Taupo Ave to Concord Ave was a "traditional general stronghold'' of the Arataki community, she said.
"By taking that out, we feel part of the Arataki community is being split from its school. That's our main concern. There is definitely a feeling we don't want our community divided off.
"Sitting alongside that is also the safety issue of sending children across numerous busy roads to the school in their new zone when they could have a safe pathway up to us."
A community-led hui at Arataki School on Tuesday evening gave people the chance to express in person their concerns around the proposed changes, Blakey said.
"We feel like our community has historical and generational links to Arataki – our community was founded around the school. And that came through really strongly [at the meeting], it was really powerful.
"To us, it is not about numbers or lines on a map - it is about looking after people."
Several public meetings have taken place since the ministry announced the changes and they also put out an online survey last week seeking community feedback.
More than 200 people had responded to the survey as of Thursday. The survey is set to close on April 16.
Ministry of Education enablement and support sector deputy secretary Katrina Casey said submission themes had focused on a "need for sense of community".
Pāpāmoa Primary School principal Lisa Morresey said the proposed zone changes would remove pressure on school facilities.
"I think the community is very realistic that all of our schools are overcrowded – and there does need to be an adjustment right across the coastal strip," she said.
"Pāpāmoa Primary had the biggest starting role that we have ever had this year - 700.
And we have got quite a bit of building work that needs to be done – a slight reduction in the role would be helpful for us to do the property work we need to do."
Mount Maunganui College principal Alastair Sinton said the need for an enrolment zone at the college was "clear and apparent" to the community.
"There is general support for it. We are a school that is going well, but we are over capacity."
The starting roll at the college this year was 1800, which Sinton said was "a few too many" in terms of rooms.
"We have had a number of rooming challenges this year that we have only just been able to cater for. It is a case of having the infrastructure to keep up with the roll growth."
He said the "key driver" behind the enrolment scheme was to give staff more certainty around the school roll size each year.
Tahatai Coast School principal Matt Skilton said the enrolment zone changes would not have a significant impact on students at the school.
"Our school preference is to keep Pāpāmoa-based whānau with the option to school in Pāpāmoa. This includes those children living in the Coast development."
The Ministry of Education consultation covers 11 schools in both Mount Maunganui and Pāpāmoa.
It has been proposed schools with enrolment schemes introduced or changed would have a transition period to allow them to enrol siblings of students for several years.
Casey said this transition period would vary between schools, and current students would not be affected by changes to enrolment schemes.
She said to manage demand the ministry needed to introduce enrolment schemes at Mount Maunganui College and Te Manawa ō Pāpāmoa School - which would open in January 2022.
"The new schemes may have impacts on other schools and require them to amend their current enrolment scheme home zones."
She said the future of secondary schooling in the area would also need to be considered, as the population growth will have an impact on rolls at this level in due course.
The proposed school rezoning plans can be viewed on the Ministry of Education website.