New Year 9 students at Kuranui College received a warm welcome from teachers and their Year 13 counterparts on their first day at the South Wairarapa school.
More than 100 students gathered outside the college auditorium earlier this week and were called in by Te Reo teacher Suzanne Murphy.
They were followed by their parents, members of their whanau and their former primary school principals, according to school spokeswoman Catherine Rossiter-Stead.
The new students were represented by Francis McNally-Te Maari, who gave a rousing speech in Te Reo Maori on the importance of the Kuranui College motto 'tatau tatau' and its meaning of "strength created through working together".
Staff and senior students sang the upbeat waiata Haere Mai after the speech before the group of new students, their families and principals were invited to share morning tea in the college student centre.
"We've been doing this for a couple of years and on each occasion we have seen more members of our students' extended family join in," principal Geoff Shepherd said.
"This is not only an extremely important way for us to welcome the new students to our school, but it is also very special. We are continuing to develop a culturally responsive environment within the college, as part of Kia Eke Panuku: an initiative designed to raise student achievement throughout the school," he said.
This term, Year 9 students will take part in a special programme of study, led by Rawiri Smith from Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, which introduces the youngsters to culturally significant sites in Wairarapa, Mrs Rossiter-Stead said.