Putaruru school rises above hellish year

A $7 million investment in new buildings is set to bring new beginnings for Putaruru's Maori immersion school, which is bouncing back after a teacher faced abuse charges.

Te Wharekura o te Kaokaoroa o Patetere endured a year from hell in 2013, firing assistant principal Rueben Tapara over allegations of sexual abuse in October. Tapara, 33, later pleaded guilty to 11 charges, with police also investigating his conduct at other another school in Te Kuiti.

Although staff and students were still recovering from the ordeal, principal Keith Silveira said the school community was now looking forward.

"The renovations couldn't come at a better time for us."

The school, which caters for children aged 5 to 18, opened the first of three major upgrades on Friday, Mr Silveira said.

The new food and nutrition dining room would provide two meals a day for all 150 students, he said.

The board of trustees supported parents who paid fees to operate a full breakfast and lunch programme, Mr Silveira said.

The $1m facility, blessed and officially opened by local kaumatua, including board chairwoman Lisa Toetoe, will also be used as a food and nutrition classroom for seniors.

A sports centre including a gymnasium, fitness centre and laundry will be open by Easter, followed by a teaching complex comprising 12 classrooms in term four.

All the school's buildings were deemed unsafe under new regulations that emerged after the Christchurch earthquakes.

Mr Silveira said his school was one of the lucky few that qualified for complete rebuilds.

Waikato Times