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School principal Stacey Honeywill said Waitati had achieved Green-Gold status as an Enviroschool late last year.
"We are very excited that this is happening.
"It is such a huge thing for our school."
Installing the panels would provide "win-win" benefits for the school, its pupils and the wider community, and it was hoped the move could cut power bills significantly, perhaps by up to a third, Mrs Honeywill said.
Installation began on Wednesday. Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods is expected to open the panels officially next month.
Mrs Honeywill was grateful that a local charity group, known as Harper Collins, had given the school $16,000 of the $22,000 cost of buying and installing the panels, enabling the project to take place.
Mrs Honeywill said the school’s 76 pupils had been learning about solar energy in recent weeks, and the use of this sustainable energy source would remain a long-term part of learning at the school.
The energy production levels from the panels and associated savings would eventually be displayed at the school, adding to mathematics learning, she said.