Green School New Zealand’s pioneer learners and families were welcomed to their new campus today with a traditional Māori pōwhiri (welcome ceremony), marking the beginning of what is to be an incredibly exciting 2020 school year. 

More than 50 students and their parents, along with Green School teachers and staff, were officially welcomed to the special piece of land in Ōākura, Taranaki, by tangata whenua (people of the land). With almost half of those in attendance having arrived from various international destinations, it was the first true taste of New Zealand culture for many.

Teacher, Di Hoskin, said it was so special to witness the coming together of those who will be the first to experience the wonder of Green School New Zealand. 

“I still wake up each day grateful for being one of the founding kaiako (educators) for Green School NZ, and to see everyone here today, together, was such a special moment.

“Today’s powhiri was particularly significant as it unified us as a community. The special cultural ceremony welcomed on new akonga (learners), their whanau (families) and our new pouako (teachers). As they crossed over, they became the tangata whenua, the people of our land.”

GSNZ founders, Michael and Rachel Perrett, said it was incredibly humbling to be standing in front of those who have been brave enough to join this journey with them.

“It has been a challenging dream, but one that we were determined to make a reality. We’ve only been able to achieve this thanks to those who have been brave enough to follow their hearts and instincts, along with those who have worked hard alongside us, to make this happen.

They paid tribute to Green School founders John and Cynthia Hardy, for their foresight and leadership in education and sustainability. 

“Thank you Green School Bali for leading the way. It’s our honour to be your sister school and one of many to come.”

Following the pōwhiri, learners got to experience the surroundings of their new learning environments while being introduced to their teachers and each other, while parents were invited to share insights and conversation with GSNZ CEO, Chris Edwards. 

Today’s event will be followed by the school’s grand opening on Friday, 14 February, which will be attended by more than 350 people including community members, local and national government officials, iwi, friends, family, and those who have been involved in the creation of Green School New Zealand.