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Birthday to remember for the Canterbury alumnus who shared cake with the Prime Minister

Canterbury schoolgirl Aavya Pandya celebrated her sixth birthday by eating cake with the Prime Minister.

Aavya, who was one of five students to join Jacinda Ardern in the birthday room at Te Rōhutu Whio School in Rolleston, said the morning was “fun”.

Ardern turned 42 last week and was treated to hot chocolate and cake during her visit to officially open the school on Friday.

The school, which has been in operation since the beginning of the year, was built to help meet demand in one of the fastest growing areas of Canterbury.

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Rolleston is the largest city in the Selwyn district to the west of Christchurch, with its population expected to reach 18,000 by 2025.

The wider district is now home to at least 73,600 people, according to Stats NZ.

Pupils Misha Pletnyakov, 10, Aavya Pandya, 6, and Swastik Rattan, 9, joined Ardern for the birthday cake.
Kai Schwoerer/stuff

Pupils Misha Pletnyakov, 10, Aavya Pandya, 6, and Swastik Rattan, 9, joined Ardern for the birthday cake.

In the year to June 2021, its population is estimated to have grown by 4.8%, more than any other area nationwide for that period.

Te Rōhutu Whio School, which can serve 400 students through Year 8, was built on land the government purchased for $3 million within the Acland Park subdivision.

It is the sixth elementary school to open in Rolleston, after Lemonwood Grove School opened in 2017.

The town’s secondary school, Rolleston College, first opened in 2017, reaching 1,316 students in just five years. Last year, the government announced that it had brought in land for a second campus, which is expected to open in 2025.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attends the official opening of Rolleston's newest primary school, Te Rōhutu Whio, on Friday.

Kai Schwoerer/stuff

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attends the official opening of Rolleston’s newest primary school, Te Rōhutu Whio, on Friday.

When Ardern heard that funky socks were part of the new uniform at Te Rōhutu Whio, she was determined not to be left out.

Students are allowed to wear vibrant socks to express their individualism and the prime minister donned a pair of yellow bee socks and proudly rolled up her trouser leg to show them off.

“Usually I just wear them around the house,” he told the students.

Ardern shows off her colorful socks at the opening of Te Rōhutu Whio School on Friday.  Funky socks are part of the new school uniform.

Kai Schwoerer/stuff

Ardern shows off her colorful socks at the opening of Te Rōhutu Whio School on Friday. Funky socks are part of the new school uniform.

News of Ardern’s visit was only revealed to excited students on Friday morning.

Year 4 student Sophia Rollo, 9, said meeting Ardern was a dream come true.

“I always dreamed of meeting the prime minister, it was fun”

Misha Pletnyakov, 10, said Arden had a good sense of humor “and his smile was nice.”