Naenae College’s Te Whare o te Atawhai reinvented!

On Friday 20 September the biggest event of the Naenae College year occurred – Te Whare o te Atawhai’s new home was opened; a new facility, under one roof, to cater for a growing roll. It is light, bright and colourful with a flexible space for full class meetings. We are excited and can’t wait to be in there full time.

The building was blessed in a ceremony at 4.30am with 50 students, staff and guests. It was an awesome, though emotional experience: a beautiful start to the day.

At 10.00am we had 150 students, staff, families and guests to the ‘ribbon-cutting’ ceremony. Three flowering cherry trees were planted in temporary pots by Liz Tomlinson, Special Education Advisor with the Ministry, Kurtis Larkin [student] and his family and Julia Lee, HOD Special Education. These will be transferred to a garden alongside the driveway. Cameron Teague and Chris Richards helped Murray Roberts from the Ministry of Education to cut the ribbons and to declare the building open. Our students did a haka before everyone moved inside for speeches, musical items and morning tea.

Julia Lee commented on the long fight for this facility by many people. To now have it is very special indeed. It gives us more space to continue to offer opportunities for our students – we do make a difference!

John Russell, Principal, mentioned that when ERO come to a school they look for the ‘heart’ of a school and the new Unit is a very good example of this. It is a great environment in which the students can learn and develop, and it is an important part of what the school can offer the community. A lot of thought and discussion preceded the building to ensure that it caters for the diverse needs of the students, e.g. the hoist for wheelchair-bound students.

Before morning tea was served the students collected a balloon each, walked down ‘the street’, corridor, and released them together after a count down. During morning tea, visitors were able to explore the new surroundings.

Julia Lee

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