When Shelley Blakey first arrived at Arataki School she knew she would stay.
"As soon as I walked through the gates I felt like I was at home," she said.
Blakey was deputy principal of the Kaimanawa St school in 2014 before she became principal three years ago.
It was not her immediate plan to become principal, but when Blakey was offered the promotion she accepted because she loved Arataki School.
"This is what I want, this is where I want to be," she said. "Driving to work, every day I am happy to come here."
Blakey described the primary school as the best-kept secret in Tauranga.
"There is something about this school that has a real sense of connection with the community," she said.
"There is an overwhelming sense of pride being from Arataki and that is translated into our school. It is just beautiful."
The school roll had reached 440 pupils and was still growing, Blakey said.
"We have increased by two classes this year," she said. "It has been exciting welcoming new families to the school, every new family brings something different."
Blakey said the school was proud to offer bilingual classes, as well as early childhood education at the Montessori on site.
However, there was plenty more the school was trying to establish for its pupils.
Pupils were engaged in sports and now music lessons and visual arts after the arrival of a new teacher.
Blakey said pupils had been working on an art project with Mount Mainstreet.
"Most schools have these things already established but we have had to work very hard," she said.
The school's motto was "building hearts and minds" and Blakey said a school's fundamental job was to grow an academic but also to look at "the heart and soul" of each child.
"Our job is to grow the whole person. There are so many aspects that make us, us," she said.
"We want our children to leave with the belief that they can achieve in any outlet. Learning is about everything, not just reading, writing and maths."
More than 100 children also participated in the school's gardening club where pupils helped in the on-site orchard and numerous vegetable gardens.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR SCHOOL?
Taj Morgan, 10
"The teachers make learning exciting."
Juda Poole, 10
"The teachers let us think on our own."
Naera Wirihana-Cole, 10
"I like that Māori is used frequently by everyone."
Ariana Baker, 10
"We encourage kids to walk and bike and be active."
ARATAKI SCHOOL ERO REPORT: 5 FEBRUARY 2015
The school enjoys strong support from its community. Trustees are engaged in ongoing governance training focused on continuous improvement in raising student achievement. Māori students are experiencing success as Māori and are actively engaged in their learning. Professional leaders are providing clear direction in all aspects of the curriculum.
About the School:
Location: Mount Maunganui
Ministry of Education profile number: 1686
School type: Contributing (Years 1 to 6)
School roll: 361
Gender composition: Boys: 54%, Girls: 46%
Ethnic composition: Māori 69%, NZ European/Pākehā 23%, Other 3%, Cook Island Māori 1%, Indian 1%, Pacific 1%, Samoan 1%, Tongan 1%
Special features: One Rumaki class and one bilingual class
Review team on site: November 2014
Date of this report: 5 February 2015