Rau rangatira mā, nga tamariki o tēnei kura, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou, kia ora tātou katoa. Distinguished guests and students of the school, warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: Andrew Baker, Chairman of the Franklin Local Board of the Auckland Council; Roger Goulstone, Principal of Valley School and Kerry Drent and Phil Faidley, Chair and Former Chair of the Valley School Board of Trustees respectively - tēnā koutou katoa.
Thank you for inviting me here today. During my time as Governor-General I’ve been fortunate to visit a number of schools. Each visit highlights to me the enthusiasm, innovation and commitment in our schools.
Every school has its own character, and some visits are definitely more hands on than others. For example, some months back, I found myself judging pet lambs at Seddon School in Marlborough.
Today, opening the new classroom block, is slightly more straightforward.
Today is a special day for Valley School, and the wider Pukekohe community. Schools are a reflection of the communities they serve, and this project demonstrates the endorsement of this school to its community. It shows a commitment in the community to the present and a determination to maintain the special character of Valley School. It’s also a joint commitment to prepare young people in this community for the future.
When the school first opened, almost 50 years ago, it had a roll of 108 pupils, a staff of four, housed in a single four room building. The popularity of Pukekohe as place to live and bring up a family has been a boon to the area. However, it has also posed challenges, particularly for Valley School – 500-plus students and around 30 staff is a massive change. It can be quite a balancing act catering for growth while at the same time maintaining the country school feel that has been so much a part of the Valley School experience.
This new classroom block, with its state of the art design and up to the minute technology brings a 21st century edge to the school. At the same time it enables the school to do what it has always done best – provide children with a first rate Kiwi education. I expect that the Junior School pupils who will use these classrooms next year will feel very special at being the first to use this facility.
Of course, buildings like this don’t appear by magic, much as we wish they could. These projects involve lots of thought, planning, discussion, negotiation and compromise – and that’s before the foundations are even laid! The process is never quick and sometimes can feel like it’s never-ending. I want to acknowledge the many people who have played their part in the development of this school-block; from the Board of Trustees, the School Leadership team and teaching staff to the Ministry of Education, to the design team and the building contractors. Works of this scale are truly a team effort and I congratulate you on what you have achieved.
This is a day of celebration, a day of completion for you all. It is also the start of something. Now that the building is finished, there comes the opportunity to bring it to life. The process so far has been about bricks and mortar; and desks and chairs. Now the story changes to journeys of discovery - teaching, learning, educating minds and attaining knowledge. Next year, a group of young people and their teachers will move in and take possession of this space. For some of those children it will be their first experience of formal schooling. What a great and inspiring environment to have as your first classroom and what a marvellous place for a teacher to teach. I think we’re likely to see some very exciting things taking place within these walls in the near future.
In conclusion, congratulations to everyone who has played their part in shaping this project and bringing it to fruition. I wish Valley School, its pupils, teachers and Board all the best for the future. As one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, Benjamin Franklin, once said “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” I am sure this investment will pay huge dividends for many years to come.
I now declare this building open
Kia ora huihui tātou katoa