The two communities of Te Whaiti and Minginui are located nine kilometres apart in the Whirinaki River Valley. Te Whaiti, a once bustling community with its own shops, movie theatre and post office, and Minginui, a former forestry town of three thousand people, are now shadows of their former selves. Under the creative leadership of a small group of passionate community members, the school (Te Kura Toitu o te Whaiti Nui-a-toi) is becoming the cornerstone of the communities rejuvenation. The story of the school is a significant one. So the legend goes, the ministry of education had the mandate to shut down one of the schools at either Te Whaiti or Minginui. The community fought hard against the decision explaining the necessity of the two SEPARATE schools (one primary and one secondary) but to no avail. However, one afternoon during a fateful trip to another school, Principal Josephine Gage noticed that the Māori language classes were separated from the rest of the school by a long driveway. That afternoon she called the Minister of Education and shared, much to the Minister's delight, that she had had a revelation and indeed there could be only one school. However, she then explained that the schools two classrooms would be separated by a nine kilometre-long driveway.
Te Whaiti is the gateway for experiences in Ngaputahi, Whirinaki, Waikaremoana and the wider Te Urewera.