Pupils Archie Catto and Charlie Burgess of Waikaia School had an important job to do on Thursday last week.

Archie, 5, the youngest pupil at the school and Charlie, 11, the oldest, cut the ribbon to mark the reopening of the school after a $1.3 million makeover which has taken about nine months to complete.

Staff and pupils moved back in on Monday.

Principal Michelle Houghton said the rebuild was ‘‘wonderful’’.

‘‘It’s bright, yet calming and is a great learning space for all.’’

The project was confirmed in 2019 by the Ministry of Education but Covid-19 delayed its starting.

The rebuild involved rearranging modernising the space inside the twoclassroom building and office area.

There is now a smaller space called a break out room between the two classrooms and an art bay both classrooms can access.

In the break out room children can work quietly on projects.

Sliding glass doors link the two classrooms.

The veranda, which was built many years ago by New Zealand Army soldiers, has been removed and replaced.

The week before school started in February, staff were told building would start about the same time pupils returned.

‘‘We had to hustle and get everything out and ready to go,’’ Mrs Houghton said.

Year three to eight teacher Sage Campbell and her pupils relocated to the back room in the nearby Switzers Museum.

The pupils came back to school for breaks.

The junior pupils with Mrs Houghton and Lauren Hailes moved into the library.

The school’s roll was 19, which was up on other years, and the future was looking good, with younger siblings of pupils due to start.

‘‘We’re quite junior-heavy. ‘‘It’s exciting,’’ Mrs Houghton said.

Southland District Mayor Rob Scott spoke at the opening.

He always got a good feeling coming into the town, Mr Scott said.

‘‘Today I got an even better feeling coming into this school.

‘‘It smells new, it looks new and what a fantastic thing to have a brand new school here for these kids to be able to do the awesome stuff that they’re doing, playing bullrush, singing waiatas and learning.’’