A Brief History of the Tauranga Adventist School

The idea for a church school was first talked about by members of the local Seventh-day Adventist Church as early as 1950 but it wasn't until the early 1970's that a plan by the Church was put into motion to realise this dream. The dream was for the establishment of a Christian school in the Tauranga area which would provide a broad based Christian education consistent with Biblical teachings, and though initially targeting the Church's own children, the school would be open to the wider community. After considerable discussion and debate as to where this school should be located, (as church families were spread extensively across the Tauranga area), the rural area of Bethlehem was finally decided upon after three acres of land was offered to the Church for the princely sum of $13,500 through a contact of Church member, Mr Les Goldstone. (Next to the present day Countdown supermarket) The purchase of the land was financed through a charitable trust that had previously been established by another church member Mr Eric Wainwright.  

Plans for the proposed school were quickly drawn up and a contract to build the modest two classroom school was awarded to builder, Mr Alex McKay. The School was eventually opened debt free in 1974 under the principal ship of Mr Barry Hauraki, who also served as the School's sole teacher. With an inaugural roll of twenty five pupils, this marked the realisation of the dream that had inspired this reality.  The local Seventh-day Adventist Church contributed $60 per week to help subsidise the fees that were charged to parents. A bus service provided by the School was considered vital for the success of the school, hence a van was subsequently purchased to assist transporting children to the School from as far away as Te Puke with parent, Mrs Beryl Phare, being the first driver.

In 1975, owing to increasing enrolment demand, an extra teacher was appointed to the School. Soon after this, plans were drawn up to add two new classrooms with the idea of adding a Junior High class. Though the extra rooms were constructed, the high school plan did not materialise though the extra rooms permitted a freeing up of space for library use and a spare room which could be used for other activities. Over the ensuing years, enrolment numbers fluctuated somewhat and along with ever increasing financial costs to parents and to the Church, a decision was made to integrate into the state system. Accordingly, in July 1993, the School became state integrated resulting in renewed enrolment pressure. This resulted in a roll increase being applied for  by the Proprietors and subsequently being approved by the Minister of Education which saw the maximum roll rise to 75 pupils and a third full time teacher being appointed.

In August, 1996, an attached storage shed was set ablaze in an arson attack which nearly set the main building alight but providentially, the School had only two days earlier installed a monitored fire alarm system which, combined with an observant neighbour who alerted the fire service, helped prevent more serious damage to the rest of the School, though ten thousand dollars of new sports equipment was lost. The shed was replaced with a larger structure which in later years, served as a temporary classroom when in 2006, a further roll increase took the roll to 100 pupils and the employment of a fourth teacher.

At this time, the School's Proprietors were planning to construct a new classroom to accommodate the recently approved roll increase, when an offer to purchase the School was made. Though the idea of possible relocation to another site had previously been considered some years earlier owing to the changing dynamics of the neighbourhood including zone changes to adjoining properties resulting in increased land values, nothing had come to fruition. Further, the School that had once been surrounded by orchards and paddocks had now become surrounded on each boundary by commercial development, and this, combined with a growing roll and limited land area for expansion, made the Board of Trustees and the School's Proprietors consider seriously the offer that had been placed before them.  After further negotiations and the providential acquisition of a larger site right next the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Moffat Road, the decision was made to sell the School and relocate to the larger site. The proceeds from the sale would be used to rebuild the new school.

And so an era for the Tauranga Adventist School came to an end when the School closed two days early at the end of the 2007 school year to help facilitate the shift to the new facility which would open to the sound of happy and excited children at the commencement of the new school year in 2008. The legacy of the original dream still lives on in the hearts and minds of all those who are part of Tauranga Adventist School today.