Churton School and Te Ao Hou Marae have many links - now strengthened by new teaching resources and a shared feast.
"As a school we have always tried to engage without local Māori community but we haven't always known how to do it," principal Andrew Spence said.
He talked to marae chairman Geoff Hipango, who suggested contacting Ngareta Patea.
She was one of the school's first pupils and her business, Te Puna Hāpai, makes Māori educational resources.
A year of work began. It included professional development at the marae, with one history session from kuia Barbara Bennett and Piki Waretini. Patea's resource book for the school, Tōku Papakāinga, was launched at the marae on December 3.
All the school's 165 pupils, teachers and staff came for the occasion. Hipango gave a speech and the karakia before the books were unveiled.
After waiata and a speech from Spence everyone was invited into the marae dining room, Te Ao Marama, for a hāngi lunch.
"It's fitting that we have a feast for them, because we are beginning a profound relationship that will grow and develop over time," Hipango said.
Spence liked seeing the children chattering comfortably as they waited for the formalities to begin.
"That really reflects our community moving in a positive direction. A number of our students live in two worlds and they move between them transparently," he said.
Connections with the local community and whānau provide a good foundation for learning, he believes.
"When students know where they come from good things can happen for them and the community."
Patea expects the relationship to grow. The school will fund more resources, tactile and digital, and visits can be made to significant places.
Connections between school and marae go back a long way. The school's land was given through the Hipango family, Hipango said, and one of the meetings to set up the marae took place on it.
The local hapū is Tūpoho ki Te Ao Marama, and the area has links to Ruapehu iwi Ngāti Rangi.
There is still a cluster of three houses and kaumātua flats around the marae, and memories of the earlier Gilbert, Tuka and Tauri families.