Another Christchurch school rebuild was officially opened today, with more than half of the Ministry of Education's $1.3 billion programme now complete.
Te Aratai College, formerly Linwood College, held an opening ceremony this morning, which was attended by the prime minister, local MPs and councillors.
A group of around 60 Freedoms and Rights Coalition protesters gathered outside the main gates and tried to interrupt proceedings by yelling, blowing horns and encouraging passing traffic to toot, but were unsuccessful.
A pōwhiri, musical performances and speeches marked the co-ed school's return to its original Aldwins Road campus, which suffered major damage in the Canterbury Earthquakes 11 years ago.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also unveiled a plaque on stage.
Since August 2020, the school had been using a temporary site on the banks of the Ōtakaro Avon River.
Principal Richard Edmundson said Te Aratai's $40 million rebuild had helped to make the east side of the city feel alive again.
"You can feel it, can't you? The east is resurgent. And we know that a strong east means a strong Christchurch, a strong Canterbury, a strong Aotearoa New Zealand," he stated.
The whole community was pleased to see the school back, Edmundson added.
"Our beautiful name, Te Aratai College - gifted to us by Ngāi Tūāhuriri - pathway to the sea. This is a name that deliberately rises... from the communities [the school] serves."
In her speech, Ardern paid special thanks to teachers.
"I just want to acknowledge how disruptive the last few years would have been for your teachers. Teaching is, in my mind, one of the most important jobs in the country. I would not be in this job that I'm in today were it not for a couple of key teachers I had."
Ardern encouraged the students to look after themselves and keep trying even if the going gets tough.
Te Aratai College has about 750 students and is one of the 73 completed rebuilds in the ministry's programme.
Most of the remaining 42 schools are expected to be completed by the end of 2024.