Local Focus: New Pāpāmoa school opens

By Gavin Ogden,

Just eight months after construction began, the Suzanne Aubert Catholic School in Pāpāmoa is ready to welcome its first pupils.

“Today we can officially say that Suzanne Aubert Catholic School has been opened and blessed. Tomorrow the learners come into their spaces and we’ll be ready and open for learning tomorrow,” Deputy Principal Shelley McKay said.

Hundreds of parents, children, iwi and church officials gathered at the site in Golden Sands to mark the occasion.

“Pāpāmoa East is growing hugely but we bring a future-focused, Catholic innovative learning environment,” McKay said.

What we bring especially too is the charisma of Suzanne Aubert, who was a French nun and her charism we hope to live out by acts of service. She was compassionate, empathetic and she also had an affinity with single mothers and Māori, she spoke fluent te reo.

“We hope to incorporate the essence of her within our school so that you know when you walk into our environment, you can see her living and breathing among our students and learners,” said McKay.

Members of the Sisters of Compassion, which Suzanne Aubert founded in 1892, travelled from Wellington for the ceremony.

“Putting Suzanne’s name on this school is fantastic for the sisters,” said Sister Margaret-Anne Mills.

“The Sisters of Compassion were founded by Suzanne Aubert. She was a woman of great faith and inspired many people. For the Sisters today we hope that Meri Hōhepa/Suzanne Aubert will be an inspiration for all the school community here.”

With speeches and unveiling of the plaque complete, the Catholic Bishop of Hamilton, Steve Lowe, blessed the new building, which tomorrow will be full of children.

“There are 82 learners coming on the first day and we can grow to 150 by the end of 2022. We can grow to 250 by the end of 2024,” said McKay.