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Dawn opening for refurbished school block

Jul 5th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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A HALF million dollar project to refurbish Pukerua Bay Primary School was celebrated when hundreds turned out for a dawn ceremony.

The tu whera (opening) of the new Wairaka Block – attended by board of trustee members, building contractors, architects, special education staff, Porirua City councillor Nick Leggett, parents and pupils – was timed to coincide with Matariki, the Maori new year, says principal Mary Jones (right).

It was an early start for staff, parents and students as they began arriving at the Pukerua Bay School hall at 6.30am for the powhiri led by kaumatua Bill Tangahau, a respected elder of the Pukerua Bay community.

Mr Tangahau led a procession through the renewed block, blessing the library and the four classrooms.

On returning to the hall, the group sang a waiata, and breakfast was served.

Will McClean (10) said the occasion was good and fun, “but the porridge didn’t taste that nice”.

Tabitha Batcheler (10) summed the day up: “It was a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing.”

Mrs Jones says the physical environment of the school – which has large, well-maintained grounds – as well as supportive parents, give her the most pride in the school.

An example was 14 parents coming in the night before the tu whera to set up breakfast in preparation for the opening.

Sixteen percent of the school’s population are Maori, making the opening a significant event for the Maori community.

Consultation with the community on the project began in February last year, although it was not until October that work began.

Special Education Services helped with funding, to assist care for a blind student, says Mrs Jones.

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NEW SURROUNDS: Roger Peel with his class in Wha, a room in the refurbished Wairaka Block at Pukerua Bay School.

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