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from disruption to discovery

Following severe flood damage in 2020, Tauhara College in Taupo, New Zealand finds the silver lining and shows how innovation and creativity can emerge from adversity.

Like the waka prow, the emblem of Tauhara College, the secondary school has forged out of stormy waters in 2022 after a flood in November 2020. 

The catastrophic downpour damaged the school’s 42-year-old prefab classrooms so badly that out of the 40 classrooms at Tauhara College only 13 were still usable. This meant the school could not reopen until 2021 and even then, only with limited teaching space.

Immediately after the flooding, the school needed to accommodate several year groups performing different learning activities in the school hall.

The school hall became a temporary learning hub with several classes being housed in one large space. Principal Ben Hancock describes the learning disruption as challenging as he remembers 2021, “For the first term our school could only place three year levels in classes, another year level in the hall and one at home.”

An emergency learning hub in the student hall.

As the year progressed and more temporary classrooms known as modcoms were built, more students were able to return to school and by term three everyone was back on site.

Having Bodyfurn® chairs in the school already, Principal Ben was aware of Furnware’s reputation for reliability, quality, and ongoing support. So he turned to Furnware for help and advice.

Nothing was an issue - even when we ripped the fabric on a chair, the team arranged pick up and repair immediately. The support they provide is the key for us. It’s a relationship.

Ben Hancock - Principal, Tauhara College

understanding objectives that are central to their learning spaces.

Ben wanted to create spaces within a space in an emergency learning hub in the student hall. So, spatial planning and innovative moveable furniture solutions were integral to create small learning zones within the large school hall and support purposeful learning.

Tauhara College prides itself on being a whanau (extended family)-based school and community. Naturally they wanted their modcom classrooms to help provide a safe place to be and connectedness to one another. So the second objective was to understand how to create innovative learning environments in the 13 new modcom classrooms taking shape on-site. Ben and his team envisaged a village-type feel where everyone was connected.

The Tauhara team wish to continue to challenge, encourage and support student learning while also future proofing the new school building that is under construction.

furniture plays a huge role in the functionality of our classrooms. we wanted a more progressive pedagogical approach to learning and having furniture that supported this approach was key in helping us achieve this goal. providing differing levels of seating types, quiet areas and soft furnishings helped break down the traditional approaches to learning. This variety allowed students to find the space that suited their learning style more and helped engage them in their work.

Ben Hancock - Principal, Tauhara College

future proofing Tauhara's learning spaces with innovative flexible furniture.


With that in mind, the team at Furnware came up with practical furniture solutions and spatial planning concepts for creative and flexible spaces, ensuring all the classroom furniture was moveable, so students can easily rearrange their furniture to suit each lesson.

"Students spend a lot of time in their new STEAM Centre. They like having comfortable furniture options and technology tailored to their needs. The whiteboard tables are particularly popular as students enjoy drawing, brainstorming and working in groups on them", says James Lamb, STEAM Teacher.

The pop-out desk on the Teachers Hub is ideal as a desk surface or additional teaching space.

The partnership between Tauhara College and Furnware has resulted in a positive outlook for the future as the range and adaptability of furniture continues to create flexible learning environments in new classrooms and other buildings.

Tukutuku Panel in the STEAM Centre, designed by students, with Poutama (Stairway to Heaven) design representing growth in education and life.

The entire school community has been incredibly resilient and, having already put into place some strategies for coping with Covid-19 lockdowns, the college supported the learners through the extra disruption. They have become experts in working with change and adapting to what is needed to succeed.

Principal Ben, who was a student at this college back in 1993, says, “With the removal of the old will come the building of the new. There's a sense of optimism that Tauhara College will finally get the buildings that the community and students deserve."

As the school continues to explore the progressive pedagogical approach to learning, Furnware will be their trusted partner and support their goal with flexible and innovative furniture solutions. We look forward to revisiting this secondary school as they gear up to move into new permanent learning spaces.

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