The usual summer holiday cheer was replaced with uncontrollable tears at Muritai School yesterday.
For the year 8 girls and a handful of boys, the thought of leaving their Eastbourne primary school and heading to the unknown world of high school was all too much.
Best friends Ruby Burley-Smith, Uma Cheyne and Dorrie Brennan, all 13, said they would miss everything about the school, but most of all their friends.
Most of the 39 school leavers yesterday had spent the past eight years together and were splitting up for the first time to go to either nearby Hutt Valley High School or one of the many schools in the city.
Uma is heading to Wellington Girls' College next year and said she would miss her friends that had chosen to go to Hutt Valley High.
"Most of us have been together since we were 5, and a few went to kindy together.
"We don't want to leave and high school will be a bit scary," she said.
The school leavers spent last week in Abel Tasman National Park, having one last school camp together, and there were plenty of laughs, Hannah Lane said.
The 12-year-old joined Muritai School only six months ago after moving from England. "I made lots of friends quickly because it's such a nice school," she said. "I'm surprised I'm not crying as well."
Principal Andrew Bird said even the teachers found it hard to say goodbye because they knew all the pupils so well after eight years.
"This last week we've really got a feel for how great they are as people and how ready they are for high school," he said.
"They all have a great sense of pride in the school and they'll be really missed."
- The Dominion Post
Who do you think won Key v Cunliffe's second debate?Related story: Leaders debate reveals more even contest