The classroom is like any other with its white walls, pushed-together tables and a big screen at the front of the room displaying the day's lesson in Powerpoint.
Homework sheets and notebooks are pulled from backpacks and laminated posters are pinned to fabric-covered cork boards.
But this classroom is different. All the students are adults, the guitar is never far from reach and a certain warmth and enthusiasm is exuding from those present.
Each lesson starts with a karakia and ends with a waiata. For the three hours in between the classroom is filled with countless laughs, high-fives and ka pais.
All up, the lesson looks and sounds like what every learning experience should be. And perhaps that's a byproduct of the subject being taught: Te reo Māori.
Te reo Māori is at the crux of a culture that embodies inclusivity and taking care of the collective.
In the week designed to celebrate and promote the language, Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, the Rotorua Daily Post sits in on one of the free, year-long te reo classes offered in both Tauranga and Rotorua's Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
The dozen adults in this class don't just practise their pronunciation and sentence structures for one week a year; they've made a year-long commitment to learning what is one of New Zealand's three official languages.
The classes are so popular the wānanga encourages people to register their interest early to avoid ending up on the inevitable waiting list.
And we can see why. Each lesson is far from dull with a variety of tasks - going over the homework, doing flashcards in groups, singing songs with accompanying actions and translating sentences.
Te Arawa Manu Kōrero finalist shares drive behind speech topic
Revitalising te reo Māori every generation's responsibility
Māori can identify with Anne Frank book says translator
While we get to observe a regular lesson, we're told the course also covers off Māori history, has a marae stay and does class excursions around the area to significant Māori sites.
With two more units for the year to go, we are impressed with how much te reo Māori the class already knows. The kaiako (tutor) says the improvement from the start of the year when most people only knew the basics, is vast.
Everyone in the class is engaged and wants to be there. When somebody struggles with an answer, others pitch in with their suggestions.
There's no judgment, no fear of failure and no segregation or cliques.
When somebody gets an answer wrong, words of encouragement or a joke is never far from another person's lips. When the answer is right, the class is quick to praise.
It's as warm and inviting as a class could be thanks to one overarching thing - the people.
People from all walks of life, culture, experiences and age coming together with a shared purpose is what makes these classes beautiful.
Tania Huriwai was raised in te reo Māori but never spoke it. Now she is raising four whangai children she wants to learn the language for them.
Sarah Maxwell-Sholl is following in the steps of her brother who went full-immersion in te reo Māori last year. Raised by their father, the pair only recently met their mother, through which their Māori heritage comes, spurring the desire to connect to the culture.
For other students, understanding what's being said at a tangi or finding a connection to the new country they've chosen to call home are equally good motivators.
Sharing the reasons behind their decision to learn te reo Māori not only highlights each person's journey with the language but how the language brings people together.
The Christian who wants to express his faith in te reo
Gary Scoggins has wanted to learn te reo Māori most his life.
But for Scoggins, like many Kiwis, other commitments in his life always took priority. That's until last year when he decided to make learning te reo Māori a priority.
"I had picked up some bits and pieces, but I decided it was time to really immerse myself in te reo.
"I've wanted to learn so, as a Pākehā Christian, I am able to express and spread my faith in te reo. The language has an incredible amount of value and I enjoy learning it.
"Compared with English, te reo Māori is an easier language to learn and this is such a great place to learn because nobody minds if it takes me longer to learn something."
Scoggins does both the morning and night classes.
"The teachers are fantastic and the [morning] group, which is mostly Māori people, is really good to learn with.
"I've found outside the classroom, once Māori know you're learning te reo, they are really patient and helpful. Also, I think there's more respect when they see you've made the effort to speak in their language."
Scoggins has come a long way since the beginning of the year but says the more you learn, the higher expectations you set yourself.
"One day I may be able to deliver a sermon in te reo Māori, but that will be a way down the track I think."
The wahine getting back to her roots
Working as a security guard at the wānanga, Gaybriel Hofmann saw dozens of people from all cultures and backgrounds walk through the doors to learn te reo Māori.
It was the realisation that, although she was brought up in te reo Māori, these people were leaving at the end of the year with a better understanding of her language that spurred the wahine to enrol.
"I never absorbed the tongue, even though we were raised in it, I liked to party," she laughed.
"But over about eight months I saw all these people from other cultures - Indian, Pākehā, Chinese, South African, coming to learn te reo and that's what made me want to reconnect."
Hofmann said she loved the wānanga classes and the supportive environment they encouraged.
"My mother would be laughing at me if she could see me now. She brought my siblings and I up in our culture and te reo, that's what she wanted for us. Some of my siblings were like me, but others kept the language.
"I can take the classes for granted sometimes, be a bit lazy because of what I grew up with, but I'm doing this now for myself.
"I didn't raise my children in te reo, but I recently found out one of my grandchildren is going to kohanga reo so her and I will be able to have chit chats."
The tutor who fell into teaching and hasn't looked back
Teaching was something Manu Warmington never thought she'd end up doing.
If it wasn't for her mother's persistence that she undertake study, Warmington wouldn't be where she is today.
"My mother would gently nudge, she'd say things like 'just go have a look at the course' so I did it for her.
"I ended up enjoying the teacher training and as soon as I finished, I moved on to a degree in Māori studies at Waiariki."
Warmington taught children at Selwyn Primary School before being offered a tutor position at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa for its new te reo Māori classes.
"That was about 18 years ago. The classes had only been going for about half a year at that point and I've been here since.
"I love teaching adults because they want to be here; they appreciate your time and want to learn. They're always asking questions and everyone has fun."
In the nearly two decades Warmington has passed on her knowledge of te reo Māori she has seen "people from every corner of the globe" walk through the wānanga's doors.
"It's lovely to see so many non-Māori wanting to learn for their own reasons.
"Te reo Māori is not something to be afraid of. Seeing where our students start at the beginning of the year to where they end up, there's some amazing transformations.
"At the end of each year, my hope is always that the students keep learning, keep practising.
"It's why I do this."
Go to www.twoa.ac.nz for more information about these free te reo Māori classes.