A $10m Government investment in a Ngāti Rongomai kura is a dream come true for an iwi that was, not long ago, at risk of extinction.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced Te Wharekura o Ngāti Rongomai would receive $10 million to build a new school.
The school has been a satellite of Te Wharekura o Te Kaokaoroa o Pātetere since it opened in July 2008 after whānau of Ngāti Rongomai expressed a desire to form their own kura for Ngāti Rongomai descendants.
Sir Toby Curtis was at the announcement and told Hipkins the minister was helping re-establish Ngāti Rongomai.
He said at one time Ngāti Rongomai were on the "verge of extinction".
"I was the only one who could speak on behalf of Ngāti Rongomai, no-one could sing my song.
"My grand-nephew came to me and said 'Koro, I want to build a school'.
"Now when I stand up and speak, 30 people sing my song."
Hipkins made the announcement at the Rotorua Ministry of Education offices. It means the school can become an established wharekura in its own right.
"We are absolutely committed to your establishment and giving you the facilities you need to do what you're passionate about and what you're good at," Hipkins said.
"Having a purpose-built facility means the wharekura can continue to build its identity as it grows its roll.
"Now you can focus on the future and move forward with certainty that the funding is there and now the exciting bit is ahead of you."
The school is run by tumuaki Renata and Tukiterangi Curtis, who said it was a joyful day.
"The dream has come true for these children ... I never knew if this dream was going to come true so to hear those words and share them with my tamariki is a dream," Tukiterangi said.
Renata said the announcement had been a long time coming and the school was going to plan with a "robust future in mind".
The chairwoman of the school's Establishing Board of Trustees said the school opened to 22 students a decade ago and was now at more than 100.
"We are really happy to now have been officially given the mana to stand on our own two feet."
The announcement followed one earlier in the week from Hipkins and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of $73 million to be invested in two major redevelopments and 39 new roll growth classrooms at 15 schools in the Waikato, Hawke's Bay and Bay of Plenty.
The Government would spend $47m to repair Otumoetai College buildings which had suffered weather-tightness problems and were in poor condition.
They also announced an additional $20m for 39 new roll growth teaching spaces to be built at schools across the three regions.
The school currently operates out of a site on Robinson Ave in Holdens Bay.