The East Gore School community has had a surprise visit from former All Black Keven Mealamu, who brought with him an even bigger surprise.

Mr Mealamu is an AA Insurance Big Little Sponsorship ambassador and was part of a group that visited the school on Friday to announce the school won a $10,000 sports grant.

The grant is made annually to two schools and is a joint project between the insurance company and Eden Park.

Mr Mealamu was also one of the judges who selected East Gore’s application from more than 4000.

The school’s involvement in the community was one reason East Gore was chosen, he said.

‘‘It seems to be a big hub for the community and a lot of the community uses this space.

‘‘Hopefully we can get our kids all active and out playing sport.’’

A deciding factor for him was the fact the school had only one set of rugby goalposts.

As well as receiving the grant, the school was given netballs and hockey sticks.

Principal Wendy Kitto and staff members were the only ones who knew the school had won the money.

All the pupils and parents were told was some important visitors were coming to the school.

Ms Kitto still could not believe the school had won. ‘‘Amazing. Unbelievable.’’

It was very humbling to receive community support for the school’s nomination, she said.

She would discuss with others what the money would be spent on but the school needed more basketball hoops and a second set of rugby posts.

The grant complemented what was happening at the school with the neighbourhood play system project.

In 2021, East Gore became one of four neighbourhoods throughout New Zealand chosen to pilot a community play initiative which aims to improve play opportunities for all age groups and abilities.