History in making

TAO LIN
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2014
New School
GREAT ANTICIPATION: Rosemarie Rimoni with her sons Raymond, 10, and Gafatasi, 11, Rimoni and South Auckland Middle School community liaison manager Bryce Anderson are all excited for the year ahead at the country’s first charter school.

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It was an exuberant first day for students and staff on Tuesday as South Auckland Middle School officially opened its doors.

Brothers Raymond, 10, and Gafatasi, 11, Rimoni were among 102 students eager to start at the first of five charter schools to open in the country.

Their mum Rosemarie Rimoni says it was an easy decision to enrol her sons because the new school offers everything she wants for her kids.

"I was attracted to the class ratio, the learning opportunities, there was more guidance with NCEA.

"I want them to start enjoying themselves a lot more, to grow," she says.

The Manurewa school is co-educational, caters for years 7-10 and is particularly focused on Maori and Pacific students.

It features a four-hour academic morning while the afternoon is devoted to sport, music and culture. Its teachers are all qualified and registered.

The school is housed in the former New Zealand headquarters of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

The property is now owned by Elim Christian Centre and is leased to the school which incorporates Christian values and philosophy.

Ms Rimoni's youngest son is attending the Rise UP Academy, a charter school in Mangere which also opens this week.

South Auckland Middle School community liaison manager Bryce Anderson says everyone is excited about getting the year under way.

"We've had this day in mind for the last three months," Mr Anderson says.

"The first week is short but we're not taking it easy."

Mr Anderson says the feedback he's received about the school has been "overwhelming" and very supportive.

Year 7, 8 and 9 classes are full and have waiting lists while enrolments for year 10 have been higher than expected, he says.

Sports, swimming and music programmes will start this week alongside normal classes.

The school has nine teachers and can cater for 120 students at maximum capacity.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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