Whakarewarewa School

About Us

A brief history.....

On the 14th March 1889 a letter was sent from the people of Tūhourangi and Ngati Wahiao to the Chief of Native Schools to establish a school at Whakarewarewa for their children. Their reasons were "the school at Ohinemutu was too far and on days when it is frosty and raining it was difficult for the children to go on days like this. One of the main reasons why they didnt go is because they get hungry. Establishing a school at Whakarewarewa would mean we would be able to feed our children", there are 50 children altogether. After many requests, it was decided to establish a school to be built on what is now Arikikapakapa Golf Course.

On the 18th of March 1902, Whakarewarewa Native School with 69 students enrolled, with an attendance of 43 opened its doors. The headmaster was Rev. H Burgoyne, and "the first committee was chaired by Maika Keepa, and the members were Mika Aporo, Hatu Pirihi, Haira Himiona,Te Waaka and Te Rohu".

In 1937, the roll had increased so St Chad's Church aka Devon Street Hall was rented as a classroom until a new site was chosen to build a new school. 

A new site was chosen which backed onto the Forest Research Institute aka SCION, the new school was officially opened by the Prime Minister the Rt Hon. Peter Fraser on April 22, 1941. In 1949, a Manual Training  Centre was established with specialist teachers to meet the needs not only of Whakarewarewa School but also pupils of Rotokawa, Whangamarino, Rotoiti, Ngongotaha, Convent, Horohoro, Ngakuru and laters years McKillop College in teaching woodwork, cooking and sewing before it was converted to a classroom since 1976..


Whakarewarewa School is a primary school of 100 students nestled near the Redwood forest and borderd by Whakarewarewa thermal village and SCION. A unique aspect of this school is that it's physically sited amidst four marae - Te Pakira Marae at Whakarewarewa Village, Apumoana marae, Hurunga Te Rangi marae and Hinemihi marae in Ngapuna. This matters because we value our uniqueness to nurture and respect our identity. Our school is certainly the loveliest place tucked safely in our corner of Rotorua.

We aim to provide all students with a culture of learning that is inclusive, exciting and empowering. The cultural and spiritual values, beliefs and practices of Te Arawa are key to ensuring students are confident in their knowledge and understanding of who they are, where they are from and to develop a holistic world view.

We believe that all our tamariki will develop a clear sense of their place in society by knowing about themselves. Building an awareness of the past, present and future of Aotearoa will help prepare them to become active citizens, locally, nationally and globally. The Whanau, Board and Staff are committed to developing and practising whanaungatanga as a normal, natural, healthy way of being.

The two learning strands in our kura offer instruction in Te Reo Máori and English:

  • Te Reo Máori option - Rumaki, provides full immersion in Maori following Te Mátauranga o Aotearoa from years 1-8
  • English option - provides full immersion in English and follows the NZ Curriculum from years 1-8

Te Reo Maori, spiritual, traditional values and beliefs permeate all aspects of the learning culture of Whakarewarewa School

  • All classes begin and end with a karakia
  • We recognise and acknowledge the 4 marae that geographically and historically and link directly to the land the kura sits on
  • We strive to maintain contact with the hapu by visiting and revisiting local marae.
  • We work on having a positive relationship with SCION who surround our kura
  • Thematic units (kaupapa matua) have a strong focus on children's links to the land, mountains, lakes and rivers
  • Where possible, we attend tangihanga at the local marae
  • We host community activities e.g. ANZAC Ceremony, Local School's Cross Country, Celebration Days
  • We make our resources and amenities available to all community groups e.g. Túhourangi kapa haka group, Túhourangi Tribal Authority
  • We participate in the annual Rotorua Kapa Haka Festival for Primary Schools
  • We support local organisations to hold events and activities e.g. Te Puia Matariki celebrations, Mountain Biking Orienteering, Citizenship Ceremonies
  • Ngáti Whakaue Education Endowment Trust who fund additional initiatives for descendants of Ngáti Whakaue