One of the first things that a student said to me when I started as principal at Sunset Primary School was “We’re a pohara (poor) school aye Matua?”. It was an upsetting question but one that was fair when I looked around the surroundings at the school. No play area, horrible paint job, broken and vandalised furniture, ripped and torn sports uniforms - really the list went on and on.
Sunset Primary School is a decile 1a school, and serves an area in Rotorua that has the highest deprivation index score in New Zealand. Along the way someone had decided that Sunset students didn’t deserve a beautiful, clean, fun and safe school. And although I was determined to change that there simply wasn’t enough money to fix all the things that needed to be done so urgently.
NZCT has made massive contributions to turning around the play environment with a huge grant towards a new playground in 2019, and at the end of 2021 an even bigger grant for a new Netball/Basketball court.
Without support from grant providers like NZCT we might be able to make slow and small changes to our school, but transformational, impactful change would be impossible.
At the end of 2021, the student who made that sad comment graduated Sunset Primary School as a year 6. When walked out for the last time he gave me a hug and said “I’m going to miss this school Matua. No-one’s got a cooler school than us.”
Eden Chapman Principal Sunset Primary