Leanne Stewart calls Aorangi School "the gem on Gem St".

The school's deputy principal said Aorangi was small and tucked away so was a hidden gem.

"It's gorgeous. It's a small school but a very strong community," Stewart said.

"It's always the people. The personality and character of the children. They're quite outgoing and bubbly.


"It's just got a really strong heart."

With a 90 per cent Maori roll, the school has a strong Maori culture.

Tianara Himona-Henara-Tauteka, 10, is in his final year at the school and has done kapa haka since Year 2. He said kapa haka was something he'd miss when he left for intermediate.

Maori culture is ingrained in the school's character, but there are also new initiatives at the primary school this year.

Stewart said the school had introduced interest groups to help children follow their passions. The children came up with the ideas for the groups which included cooking, sports, art and gardening.

The teachers pick a group to supervise based on their interests.

A nurture group has also been set up where young boys learn social skills such as solving problems, addressing conflicts and making and keeping friends.

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Aorangi has a focus on education outside the classroom with a fleet of vans teachers can take out at any time.

"We go reading at the SPCA, perform at retirement villages and we clean up at Linton Park," Stewart said.

She said the ability to go out at any time broke down barriers for the children.

About the school
Principal: Debra Harrod
Location: 3 Gem St, Pukehangi
Type: State, Co-educational, Primary
Roll: 147
Gender composition: Female - 44 per cent, Male - 56 per cent
Ethnic composition: Maori - 90 per cent, Pakeha - 5 per cent, Pasifika - 5 per cent.
Motto: Achieving our personal best in a happy supportive environment.