Rotorua Girls' High School has taken out the Excellence in Governance Award at the Prime Minister's Education Excellence Awards.

The awards were held in Wellington last night .

The award was for work raising Māori achievement.

Before the ceremony Rotorua Girls' High School principal Ally Gibbons said addressing Māori achievement had been a "whole journey".

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"Having a strong moral purpose has helped us to raise Māori achievement as we have a huge responsibility to ensure equity and excellence in opportunity and outcomes for all of our students," Gibbons said.

"While it's this aspect we've been recognised for, this big picture has been a holistic approach to everything we've done."

When accepting the award Gibbons said the recognition was encouraging.

"It is encouraging to know that our quality cultural responsive and relational processes and practices have been recognised," she said.

"We are proud that they are embedded into the culture of our school and are inextricably linked to our te ao kapurangi initiative which has transformed our school and ensures equity and excellence for all of our ākonga [students].

"This success acknowledges the outstanding work of our whole Rotorua Girls' High School community."

Representatives of the school accepted the award at the ceremony. Photo/Supplied
Representatives of the school accepted the award at the ceremony. Photo/Supplied

Gibbons later told the Rotorua Daily Post the school would continue to develop its initiative.

"The initiative is embedded in the school but you're always looking for ways to improve it. We'll continue to make improvements because the ultimate goal is equity and excellence for all students."

The award was presented by Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters at Parliament.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the selection process had been rigorous.

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"These schools and early learning services have achieved great outcomes for their children and young people, setting them up for lifelong learning," Hipkins said.

"It's a good opportunity to celebrate their success and share their stories across the sector, so others can benefit from their experiences."

Winners from each category receive $20,000 and a professional development opportunity. They also received $3000 when named as finalists. The supreme winner was given an additional $30,000.

The awards were judged by a panel which included principals, the disability rights commissioner and professors, among others.

The judging panel said Rotorua Girls' High School had an "outstanding focus" on Māori women achieving as Māori.

"By upskilling staff and strengthening connections with iwi for vision and guidance, the School has built a strong culture for its students," the panel said.

When named as a finalist Gibbons said raising Māori achievement had a flow-on effect to the rest of the school.

"I just think it's a testament to the hard work that's been done by staff and by students and with whānau involvement."

She said the school had created an engaging environment for Māori students to learn and to celebrate their identities.

The Prime Minister's Education Excellence Awards celebrate outstanding education practices in New Zealand. These were the fifth awards and they attracted 127 entries across the categories.

The winners
- Excellence in engaging: Toru Fetū Kindergarten, Porirua
- Excellence in leading: St Paul's Collegiate School, Hamilton
- Excellence in teaching and learning: Flaxmere College, Hastings
- Excellence in governing: Rotorua Girls' High School
- Education focus prize: William Colenso College, Napier
- Supreme winner: Flaxmere College, Hastings

Comment: Celebrating good things

Much is said of media focusing too much on what's going wrong - now the

Rotorua Daily Post

is going to tackle this head on.

From today, we plan to shout more about the good things in Rotorua.

We already cover many stories about the great things people, companies, agencies, schools and even government departments, are doing.

Now we plan to show off about it more.

Meet NZME UPBEAT.

When you see this branding, you will know this is something we consider you'll be cheered by. We'll be cheering about it too.

You can send your positive story ideas to news@dailypost.co.nz.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Scott Inglis
Regional Editor
NZME, publisher of the Rotorua Daily Post