The classroom, a toilet next door and a new playground was what Year 4 student Raiden Whiu enjoyed most on his first day at his newly-built school, on Wednesday.
“I was excited!” the eight-year-old told The Sun after experiencing his first full day of school at Te Kura o Manunui.
“I had a good day!”
The school officially welcomed its students, ranging from Year 1-6 onto the new site at 72 Millers Rd on February 7.
Before this, an opening ceremony on January 23 opened the Tomokanga Gateway with a dawn ceremony.
Principal Ngaere Durie says Wednesday offered a “truly memorable and special ceremony for our tamariki, their whānau, the hapū - Ngai Tamarāwaho, Iwi NgātI Ranginui and our staff”.
“It was a beautiful heartfelt pōhiri with all those that support the kura.”
Formally known as Brookfield School, and located at 20 Millers Rd, it was 2019 when then-Education Minister Chris Hipkins revealed plans to expand Brookfield Primary – due to population growth in the area – by building a new school to open Term 1, 2024.
The turning of the sod of soil at the new site happened February 2022, with the new multi-storeyed school building taking shape ever since.
Today the new school has 25 classrooms, with 320 students currently enrolled.
This is up from 290 students enrolled at the old school site last year, learning within 17 classrooms.
Ngaere says the new school campus is highly significant to the community as it is an “acknowledgement of mana whenua Ngai Tamarāwaho, it also reflects all our whānau from all over the world and local stories in and around the Ōtūmoetai area”.
Year 4 student Raiden Whiu, 8, at his newly-built school. Photo: Supplied.
Raiden, who has attended the school at the old site for four years, also turned up in new uniform at school on Wednesday too.
Raiden’s mother Jo Delicata says the new uniform and school have been much-awaited by Raiden and his peers.
“Raiden went to the school on Monday for an orientation session where he got to know here his classroom is and got to have walk-around to know where everything is at the school – ready for Wednesday.”
The Ministry of Education’s Te Tai Whenua (Central) acting Hautū deputy secretary Tracey Turner says the existing Brookfield School was operating over capacity and there was no more land available to increase the school’s size.
“[As such,] A new school site was required to enable a larger school to be built.
This new site has a capacity for 550 students, compared to the previous Brookfield School capacity of 279 students.”
Tracey says the move to the new site occurred at the end of 2023, and Term 1, 2024, heralding a new start for all students at newly-built school.
“Students and families will experience a new school with new facilities, more classrooms and more space, with easier accessibility to the school and parking.
Ngaere says the project has been in the works since 2019, involving the school whānau, community and hapū Ngāi Tamarawaho.
“Together hapū, parents, whānau, community and our tamariki were welcome to contribute ideas, wishes and aspirations.”
Ngaere says it quickly became clear to them that they wanted to change the name of the school from Brookfield School.
“Ideas were shared at many meetings and history of the area was shared by many kaumātua.
"The school worked intensively with hapū kaumātua; Maora Reed, Des Tata, Tamatī Tata, and the late Peri Kohu."
“In 2020 our school whānau, community and hapū (subtribe) Ngāi Tamarawaho all were able to vote.
"It revealed that the majority of our whānau wanted to change the name to Te Kura o Manunui.”
The logo for the school has five key parts which encompass local historical elements, says Ngaere. And now this has come to life on new uniforms being worn at the school this term.
“A poutama is a stepped pattern of tukutuku panels and woven mats symbolising genealogies and also the various levels of learning and intellectual achievement.
"Some say they represent the steps which Tāne-o-te-wānanga ascended to the topmost realm in his quest for superior knowledge and religion.
“The poutama here represents an ascending path of continual growth and development.
“The manu is based on the local legend of Hineawa / Hinewa symbolising guidance and protection on the journey.
"The bird symbolises hovering over our tamariki and helping to guide them on their educational journey.
“This symbol is also in reference to Manunui Pā/village which acknowledges mana whenua and tangata whenua (the land and the people).
“The shades of blue reflect the many waterways within close proximity to the school, and the multicultural nature of the school.”
And, Te Kura o Manunui’s new motto is ‘Poipoia Kia Rere’ – ‘Nurturing Students to Succeed’.