Wellington Cardinal John Dew formally opened and blessed the archdiocese’s newest school, Our Lady of Kapiti School, on March 17, 2017.

The $6 million school, funded by both the archdiocese and the Government, replaced the 63-year-old St Patrick’s School. It opened with a roll of 125 students.

Brothers Francis, Rafael and Dominic Mettrick showed their uncle, Prime Minister Bill English around their new school on March 9, 2017. Photo courtesy of Prime Minister’s office
Brothers Francis, Rafael and Dominic Mettrick showed their uncle, Prime Minister Bill English around their new school on March 9, 2017. Photo courtesy of Prime Minister’s office

In his speech during the blessing, Cardinal Dew said it was fitting to do the formal opening of the school on St Patrick’s feast day.

“The buildings are important — but what is essential for Catholic education is the heart of the school — Jesus Christ. It takes many people to grow, develop and educate children,” said Cardinal Dew.

He told the children how blessed they were to be supported by their families and teachers so they [the children] can develop their God-given talents.

“Families and teachers build on this foundation to create a community of believers so that children can learn to ‘walk the way of Jesus Christ, live the life of Jesus Christ and tell the truth of Jesus Christ’. This is my vision for this school and for all our schools,” he added.

Our Lady of Kapiti School principal Martin Elms, who led the school through its transition, said it was a very proud moment for him.

“There is a measure of relief that we are safely in our new facilities and children actively engaged in their learning. The spaces are working as we had imagined they would. Children and staff love them,” he told NZ Catholic.

“For us all as a staff this whole journey is the ultimate ‘teacher as inquiry’ process. The classrooms and learning spaces have been designed and built using a brief which we were all involved in developing,” he added.

The school was built to accommodate 250 students. It has ten classrooms and a school hall which displays stained glass from St Patrick’s Church.

Mr Elms said the brief was for a warm and welcoming facility that is “flexible, variable and adaptable . . . free from the constraints of four walls, a whiteboard and 30 desks and chairs”.

“The challenge for us now is to ensure that we use them in a way that engages children in learning that is relevant, meaningful and embedded in our Christian Catholic faith, ensuring all the routines and systems that come with a new facility are properly in place and functional,” he said.

When the Paraparaumu and Waikanae parishes merged in 2013, the decision to build new facilities was made.

On his facebook page, Cardinal Dew wrote that “the new parish of Our Lady of Kapiti was presented with a unique opportunity to bring all its parish buildings together on one site, and they took advantage of this opportunity with courage and imagination”.

“Thanks to all those who have worked so hard to bring about this stage of the project, and we look forward to the developments which are still to come.”

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