A new $12 million kura in Hokianga has been a long time coming, says the principal, with court hearings, public meetings and students learning in old buildings all part of the battle.
The funds going towards a new site and new buildings for Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Tonga o Hokianga are part of a $19 million investment under Budget 2016 which will also provide $7 million across three schools for new classrooms.
The announcement was made by Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye at Whangarei Girls' High School yesterday. As part of the funding Girls' High will get 10 new classrooms, Parua Bay Primary School four new classrooms and Bay of Islands International Academy will be getting two new classrooms.
Michelle Sarich, co-principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Tonga o Hokianga, which is near Whirinaki, said the new school, which will be located at the nearby Koutu Point, was a long time coming.
"The potential is endless. It allows our children space for specialist subjects. Our students are high achievers they will be absolutely elated, it's just exciting to move forward and give our students buildings every student deserves," Ms Sarich said.
There has been debate in the community over the relocation in the past. In 2012 a community meeting was held in Whirinaki to discuss the relocation with community members saying there could have been more consultation with the community about ways to keep it in Whirinaki.
In 2014 there was a three-day Environment Court hearing at the Copthorne Omapere of an appeal against the Ministry of Education's notice of requirement to designate land on Koutu Point Rd as the site of a new school.
"It's all been rectified in court. It's been a long battle for all," said Ms Sarich.
The school is using the old Whirinaki School buildings and Ms Sarich said some classrooms were leaking and uninsulated.
It was too early to say how many classes would be constructed at the new site and what subjects they would hold.
Ms Kaye said the new site would allow the school to increase the roll size to 150 and said there would also be a community hub which could support the surrounding area operating at the kura.
Whangarei Girls' High School principal Anne Cooper said the school's new classrooms were needed after a steady roll increase over the years.
"At the moment any space we have, we're using. We have students in resources rooms, in the hall, using the whare, everywhere. These will be modern learning spaces, it will really boost morale," she said.
The school has recently built three new health classrooms and four temporary classrooms are being built and will be used until the new classrooms are completed.
"A few years ago we certainly indicated we needed more classrooms so this is just fantastic," she said.
Ms Kaye said the $19 million investment was a boost for Northland school communities.
"The combination of the investment in new classrooms and a new wharekura, along with the redevelopment of Northland College, provide a major boost for Northland's school communities, and show the Government is committed to the region's young people."
By Mikaela Collins