Pupils from a school destroyed by a massive blaze just as they were about to start the year will learn resilience and strength of community from the loss.
Children at Apanui School will be taught off-site as fire investigators determine the cause of the fire that destroyed eight classrooms and a staffroom early Saturday morning.
New photos show the charred remains of the classrooms that would have accommodated the 400 children and 35 staff members at the Whakatane school.
Instead, the local War Memorial Hall will be the school base.
Board of Trustees member Alexandra Pickles said pupils would have "opportunities rather than sacrifice" because of whanau and school support.
"A lot of activities and a programme of events have been put together to give the pupil some positive opportunities and experiences in the coming weeks," Pickles said.
The War Memorial Hall had a number of facilities attached and was adjacent to the aquatic centre and local high school.
"One of the core values of the school is resilience and this is a great opportunity to explore what resilience is all about."
The school grounds would be closed for at least three weeks so investigations could be completed and the site cleared.
Power, water and fibre would then be reinstalled.
Apanui School principal Simon Akroyd said the entire school community had been shocked and saddened by the fire.
Firefighters battled the blaze at the school, located on McAlister St in Whakatāne, after being called about 2am on Saturday morning.
Akroyd said the cause remained unknown but he was confident the Fire and Emergency New Zealand's team would work to determine this.
"Right now though, our focus is on our school community – the students, their whānau, and our staff – and supporting them all as best we can."
Akroyd said the school's leadership team would work with the Ministry of Education and other agencies to ensure their tamariki get the school opportunities they deserve.
Akroyd said he had utmost praise for the community's local volunteer Fire and Emergency crew who had put in a significant effort to contain the fire and were continuing to make the area safe.
It is not the first time there had been a fire at Apanui School.
In November 2019 the school playground was destroyed after a fire was deliberately lit.