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Rapt attention ... Maheno School pupils listen to an educator at the Gallipoli exhibition at Te Papa. PHOTO: EWAN MACLEOD

Despite being a little bit tired on their return, Maheno School pupils can’t stop talking about their recent trip to Wellington.

The journey was made possible through Air New Zealand’s Airpoints for Schools initiative, which involved the public donating more than 10,000 airpoints to the school.

As a result, more than 50 pupils – essentially the whole school – visited the capital along with staff and parent helpers.

Maheno School junior teacher Stella Josephs said the children had a “brilliant” time, and learned a lot along the way.

Scale of war … Maheno pupils check out one of the massive models at Te Papa. PHOTO: EWAN MACLEOD

They visited Wellington Zoo, the Reserve Bank, Mt Victoria, Wellington Museum, Te Papa, the National Library and Parliament, where they were given a tour by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, among other attractions and locations.

While at the National Library, Miss Josephs said the children got the opportunity to view some of the country’s most important documents.

“We got to see the original Treaty of Waitangi, the women’s suffrage petition and the Declaration of Independence (of New Zealand), which came before the Treaty of Waitangi.

“I think they really enjoyed it. The one that resonated with them the most was the Treaty of Waitangi because we learned about it this year.”

However, for many of the children, the most exciting part of the trip was their visit to Te Papa, which houses a replica section of the World War I hospital ship Maheno.

Familiar name … Maheno pupils look at the model of the SS Maheno. PHOTO: EWAN MACLEOD

The ship’s bell was given to the school several decades ago and in 2015 and 2016, a group from the school visited Fraser Island in Australia, where the wreck of the ship lies, for Anzac Day commemorations.

They also viewed Te Papa’s Gallipoli exhibition.

“That’s the part the children were most interested in,” Miss Josephs said.

“It was wonderful for them making a connection . . . the year before last we did a big World War I thing and did research on that and managed to reunite an old letter with a family from another family.

“I think the big thing for us is the education outside the classroom is where all our work in the classroom comes to life. That’s the magic of teaching and learning.”