Kerikeri High School is one of four national finalists in the Prime Minister's Education Excellence Awards.
The excellence in teaching and learning category celebrates teaching that transforms the learning of all young people and achieves improved outcomes for them.
"This is a huge achievement and great recognition for our school," board chairman Rick Palmer says.
"It's probably the biggest thing for the school in the time that I have been on the board."
Two judges spent a day at the school in May.
They spent the time visiting classrooms, meeting parents and students, including past students, teachers, the board chairman and observing students.
Principal Elizabeth Forgie says preparing for the judging visit was a great experience because it enabled the school to reflect on how far it had come.
The school's data shows a dramatic improvement in achievement for Maori students - and in doing so has proved that what is good for Maori is good for all, with the school's overall pass rates rising significantly, Palmer says.
The NCEA level 2 pass rate lifted from 58 per cent in 2005 to 91 per cent last year.
The Government's target for schools is 85 per cent by 2017.
The pass rate for Maori students rose from 28.6 per cent to 82.4 per cent over the same period.
The results have also had a huge impact on boys' achievement, rising from 48 per cent to 91 per cent.
Pass rates and student retention for the whole school have risen and Maori school leavers at Kerikeri High School perform 17 per cent above the national average academically.
Three videos made by a visiting film crew focus on best practice at Kerikeri.
They will be shared with other schools.