‘‘We’re old but we’re new,’’ Māruawai College principal Mel Hamilton told staff and board of trustees during a pōwhiri on Monday.

Ninety members of the senior and junior campuses were welcomed on to the Coutts Rd site during the pōwhiri by Hokonui Rūnanga representatives and Mrs Hamilton.

Māruawai College formed from the merger of Gore High School and Longford Intermediate and comprises a senior campus in Coutts Rd and a junior campus in the former Longford Intermediate site.

Rūnanga kaikaranga Jo Brand called the former Longford Intermediate, Gore High and new staff to the college, who were waiting outside the grounds, into the assembly hall and teacher Bridget McLeod replied on behalf of the staff.

Once inside, Rūnanga cultural adviser Matu Coleman-Clark gave a whaikōrero on behalf of the college and teacher Sam Hadfield replied.

After the pōwhiri Mrs Hamilton spoke to the group.

She acknowledged the contribution of teachers, staff and pupils of both schools from the past. ‘‘We’re old but we’re new and that’s what exciting about this journey.’’

Mrs Hamilton made special mention of resilience, one of the school values. Resilience was represented by two species: manawa kanakana (lamprey) and manawa tītī (muttonbird).

Both creatures showed great manawa (heart) or resilience, she said.

Tītī flew nine hours a day to collect and return with food for their chicks and kanakana swam upstream overcoming many obstacles.

It was a day to celebrate kotahitanga (oneness), Mrs Hamilton said. The school’s logo was based on connection, unity and togetherness.

‘‘Drawing inspiration from harakeke [flax], it signifies the weaving together of community and connection.

‘‘We are woven together by a shared commitment to education and service to our community.

‘‘Just as each thread contributes to the strength of the fabric, each of you will play an integral role in shaping the fabric of Māruawai College.’’

The school haka, written by former pupil Mr Coleman-Clarke, also referred to the weaving together of people in unity, she said.

Many years ago Gore High was given two huia in a display case by a past board of trustees member.

How the two birds worked together was a picture of how two separate entities could function, she said.

‘‘A pair of huia would forage together.

‘‘The male pecking a decaying tree in search of insects like huhu grubs and weta, while the female used her long curved beak to seek out insects.

‘‘Like our huia, both campuses will work together to our mutual benefit.’’

Staff were presented with a koru made of pounamu.

‘‘It represents new beginnings, growth, continuous cycle of learning but to us to let it be symbol of our kotahitanga oneness.’’

When people wore or looked at the koru it should remind them of their significance to the school community, she said.

‘‘As the koru of a fern unfurls in a unique way, so too do your individual talents or super powers and contributions enrich this place.’’

After the presentation of the gift Mr Hadfield led the staff in the school haka.

New beginnings. . . Maruawai College staff gather outside the senior campus on Coutts Rd after a powhiri welcoming them to the start of a school year as part of the new schooling entity in Gore. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Ms Brand’s involvement with Gore High started four years ago when the Ministry of Education invited the rūnanga to be part of the school’s rebuild project.

This had led to a conversation about the two school’s merging and it was ‘‘exciting’’ to see this a reality, Ms Brand said.

Her father had gone to Gore High as had many of her whanau.

When the request for a name for the new college she had talked with many of them.

Māruawai meant the valley of water so it was an appropriate name for a school that had many primary schools feeding into it, she said.

‘‘I think it’s really reflective locally.’’

Mr Coleman-Clarke said as a former pupil of the school he had mixed thoughts about the merger.

‘‘Sad day but also a happy day.’’

Many of his whanau including his mother had also attended the school.

‘‘It’s also good to be on this new journey with Ma ¯ruawai College, moving forward and working together with my old school and being able to help out where I can.’’

Learning te reo Māori when he was at school had helped ‘‘him get back on his journey with te ao Māori [Māori world]’’.