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 very first day of the original school pictured with Mr Barry Hauraki (Teaching Principal) and students.
Founded in Bethlehem, Tauranga
The School was eventually opened debt free in 1974 under the principalship 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.
The new school under construction.
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 to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Moffat Road, the decision was made to sell the School and relocate to the larger site.
First day in the new school. Bay of Plenty Times, February 5, 2008.
Offical School Opening
The School was officially opened on Sunday, June 22, 2008 after a formal ceremony held at the Seventh-day Adventist Church next door. A last-minute decision was made to bring the formalities indoors after a deluge of rain prevented the use of the marquee which has been pitched on the school grounds for the occasion. Guests speakers included Mr Bob Clarkson, Member of Parliament for Tauranga and Pastor Eddie Tupai, Chairman of the New Zealand Schools Association, The School was officially declared open after a short ceremony by Tauranga mayor, Mr Stewart Crosby, a mass balloon release by students and an inspection of the new facilities by all those in attendance.
A Church with a Vision
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 (next to the present day Countdown supermarket) 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. The purchase of the land was financed through a charitable trust that had previously been established by another church member Mr Eric Wainwright.