by PETER GRACE
Finding the site of a yet-to-be built primary school in a semi-rural area before dawn proves a challenge.

Papakura parish priest Fr Peter Murphy completes the turning of the first sod, saved in the box at his feet. The sod will be used when the school is blessed and opened in January 2017.
Papakura parish priest Fr Peter Murphy completes the turning of the first sod, saved in the box at his feet. The
sod will be used when the school is blessed and opened in January 2017.

A few figures in a driveway take some form in the gloom. “Is this the school?”
“Yes,” with a laugh.
The ceremony for the turning of the first sod on the site of Holy Trinity Catholic Primary School in Takanini began at 6am — still before dawn on September 29. Fortunately it was fine, although misty and unusually cold for the
time of year.
The site had been a poultry farm, and “chooky poo” is still advertised at a gateway.
After quiet chat in the moonlight, with added light from cellphones and torches, the group of about two dozen faced
into the driveway. Kuia Waiata Ngataki called with a karanga. Then her husband, Ted, and two other kaumatua,
Matua Toimai and Bob Clarke, chanted in Te Reo as the group made its slow way several hundred metres down a track and past disused chook houses to the edge of a large open space — a space that looked easily big enough for two schools.
Holy Trinity School Board of Trustees member Anthony Noble-Campbell spoke in Te Reo, then in English.
The mission of Holy Trinity Catholic Primary School, he said, would be to love,serve and learn in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“I acknowledge our board members who have given so generously of their time from their schedules,” he said.
Papakura parish priest Fr Peter Murphy took a spade and dug out a sod, which he placed into a box for safe keeping. That soil will be returned when the school is opened in 2017.
Fr Murphy and Faye Gibson led a short liturgy, then Mr Clarke spoke briefly. “Thank you for inviting us,” he said, “for this is our tupuna [ancestor].”
The guests included the diocese’s Property Group manager Michael Stride, staff from the Catholic Schools Office, a former teacher and diocesan staff member, a representative from Holy Trinity’s establishment committee, local MP Judith Collins, and supporters.
As a band of red brightened the edge of the eastern sky, the party made its way back to Airfield Rd, then repaired to the café next door for breakfast — and to warm up before facing rush hour traffic.

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