For a year, journalists from the Herald followed students from Papakura High School to find out what life was like in an underprivileged school.
Some students faced homelessness, hunger, and poverty - which sometimes overshadowed their education.
In this video, school staff including principal John Rohs discuss the impact of a variety of social issues on the students.
"Those who grow up in privilege find it hard to grasp what our world looks like. Our kids grow up with a world-view that is so narrow and so limited that it's quite scary," he says.
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"Education has got to compensate for that ... and it's not that I need to give them a sandwich, it's about giving our kids the opportunity to actually experience what a rich life is all about."