It was a momentous day in the Wairau yesterday with the opening Te Pā Wānanga, the first bilingual Māori focus school in Marlborough.

Based at Omaka Marae in Blenheim, local iwi says it's the beginning of a new chapter for their people.

The journey to get the school built has taken five years, with the support of Renwick School, but locals say they've been waiting far longer.

Kiley Nepia says the school is bilingual for the time being to attract more students, but the curriculum will be Māori based.

The future leaders produced by the school have the benefit of learning on their marae with the guidance of the principles of Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Rangitāne ō Wairau and Ngāti Kuia.