Welcome to Aroha Discovery School

Aroha Discovery School is an initiative started by the registered charity Arohanui Learning Communities Trust. The charity and initiative were born from the desire of Nelson parents for a more holistic approach to education. Our programmes are based on the fundamental tenet that relationships (between students, teachers, parents, nature and the wider community) are the foundation from which children will continually spark their creativity and desire to learn, grow and thrive as confident individuals.

Please note that Aroha Discovery School is not a registered school and is not required to be when running one day programmes. The name was chosen as it is our intention to eventually register as a private school so that we may offer a full immersion programme based on our founding principles.


We chose to use Aroha in our name because it means “love” in Māori. A corner stone of Aroha Discovery School is to nurture our children’s’ inborn love of learning – letting them lead the way. The teacher’s role is viewed as providing scaffolding to support them as they travel along their own personal journey of discovery.

At Aroha Discovery School the child is at the centre of their own learning and are encouraged at all times, in all areas to compare their work and skills with their own previous achievements and their own goals. The capacity to use a skill and expand on it, is taken as demonstrating possession of that skill and these are documented using learning stories and portfolios.

Photo by Laura Kapfer on Unsplash


We all need to feel we are understood, valued and supported to be able to effectively learn and grow as individuals. At Aroha Discovery School learning to build and maintain healthy relationships with each other (whether it’s with another student, teacher, parent or people in the wider community) is central to our students learning and involves established conflict resolution methods for problem solving between individuals.

Our culture is one of respect – for each other, for the importance of and freedom to learn, and for Papatūānuku (mother earth); and unstructured play is considered a natural way in which children explore, master new skills and integrate information.

Image designed by Freepik

News & Events

Holiday Programme

We are very excited to announce the launch of our holiday programme!

Make sure and book your child’s spot for the upcoming term 3 holidays…

Invitation to meet our Facilitator…

As a lead up to our opening in term 3, we’d like to invite you to come spend an hour with our Facilitator Lysanne van Zessen. This is an opportunity for families who are already enrolled and for those that are thinking about enrolling to meet Lysanne and get a feel for what a day on our one day programme will be like. It’s an informal meet up where Lysanne can answer any questions you might have and is an opportunity for your kids to get to know her and each other before we open in term 3.

Dates and times as follows…

Friday 10th July:   4:00pm – 5:00pm

Sunday 12th July:  2:00pm – 3:00pm

Location: The Meadow (beside the Sanctuary) at Fairfield House, 48 van Diemen Street, Nelson 

(if raining we will meet in the Sanctuary)

We look forward to seeing you there! 

One Day Nature Programme Launching in Term 3!


We are super excited to announce the launch of our One Day Nature Progamme in term 3 of this year.

We’ve been working around the clock to get this ready for you and you can now read all about it and enrol your child on our programmes page.

We look forward to exploring Papatūānuku with you and your tamariki!

Aroha Discovery Programmes

While in lockdown we’ve been reassessing where we’re at and where we go to as we slowly emerge from lockdown. Due to the uncertainty everyone finds themselves in at present we’ll be delaying our opening as a full school until 2021 but are instead looking at running a school holiday programme, and (during term time) a one day a week programme as a lead up to our opening as a full school. One day programmes run as an addition to traditional schooling so (like with STEM School’s) your child would still be enrolled at their usual school but they would spend a day attending our programme as part of their schooling.

To gauge the feasibility of running these programmes we are requesting interested families to fill out our Aroha Discovery Programmes survey. The survey only takes a few minutes to complete and gives us valuable information on how we can cater to your needs. Please also feel free to pass the survey link onto any other families you think might be interested.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Otherwise, we look forward to receiving your responses!

Start Date

You have been asking, and we have been asking ourselves – will we be opening in term 2?

We did have a minor setback with confirming our head teacher, which delayed things slightly, and with the uncertain world we live in just now with this virus we have made the decision to push our start date back to term 3 of 2020.

The good news is that this gives us more time to prepare, and we are looking at the possibility of running a holiday program as a “taster” for the school. We still need to confirm some details around this so will give you a more fuller update if this is to go ahead in the coming weeks. In the meantime be kind to yourself, be kind to others, check in on your neighbours, and remember that staying home if you’re not feeling well is also an act of kindness.

Pizza Party Fundraiser

It was a lovely sunny afternoon at Fairfield for our Pizza Party Fundraiser and it was wonderful to see everyone turn out for this event. There were bubbles, dancing, dress-ups and (of course) pizza galore! Thank you so much to everyone that supported us, including our wonderful sponsors: Fairfield House, Nelson New World, Nelson Electronics – 2011 LTD, Fresh2U Organic Food Delivery, Pohara Top 10 Holiday Park, State Cinemas Nelson, Tim’s Garden, Trade Aid Nelson, NelsonSon – Afro & Latin Dance, Flossie Balloons and Entertainment, Italian Pizza Garage, Kombucha Bros , and all our wonderful volunteers! This event could not have happened with out all your support!

Thank you also to Clara Holm for these lovely photos…

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