Ask 11-year-old Jacinda Ardern what she wanted to be when she grew up, and the most likely answer at the time would have been a police officer, like my father.
Today, she now walks the beat as New Zealands 40th prime minister.
Ardern speaks of memories and good times at Morrinsville Intermediate School on Thursday.
The politician returned to her stomping ground on Thursday and visited Morrinsville Intermediate School ahead of its 50th Jubilee on April 10.
The anniversary celebration was scheduled for May last year, but after the country went into lockdown one year ago today, ironically ordered by Morrinsville Intermediates most famous student, the school decided to postpone the event and Ardens invitation to 2021.
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While Ardern doesnt plan to accept the school’s invitation and attend the anniversary, she took the opportunity to share freshly baked student cookies, tour the school, catch up with past teachers and share memories of life as a schoolgirl in the early 1990s to an auditorium of 360 students.
These included sitting on hard wooden benches during school assemblies, climbing over the old obstacle course, and getting creative in her favourite subjects wood and metalwork.
Silence spread across the school yard as principal Jenny Clark greeted Ardern and Te Ao Marama Maaka of Ngti Hau welcomed her home.
It is my privilege to officially welcome you here today to visit your old school and acknowledge our 50th Jubilee, Clark said to Ardern.
Twelve-year-old Ardern is seated in the front row, third from the right.
For the prime minister, it felt like she was coming home.
I have such happy memories at this school, she told the school.
This hall is exactly the same, except the fact it didnt have this smart tiered seating. We used to sit on very hard wooden benches in this hall.
Jacinda Ardern in a photo from Morrinsville Intermediate School, circa 1993.
I remember outside on the school field, there was this horrible thing called an obstacle course.
My sister [Louise] and I were both terrible at the obstacle course, so my father would bring us down to the school on weekends to practise.
Her nickname, Aunty, however, was something she picked up long ago.
My form two teacher, Mrs Bean, gave me the nickname Aunty Jack.
Ive been called Aunty since I was 12 years old.
New Zealands prime minister snaps a selfie with students making biscuits.
It was also the place she discovered her new favourite subjects.
Entering the classroom on Thursday, Ardern was met with a smiling, yet emotional, teacher named Stuart King, who was her woodwork teacher some 30 years ago.
You look the same you havent changed a bit, she said to King.
Im very emotional to see you; Im retiring in three weeks, he replied.
Ardern gave King the handcrafted police car she made for her father, Ross, in 1992. Shed carried it around in a green paper bag all morning.
Stuart King and Jacinda Ardern stand with the wooden police car she made as a 12-year-old.
But Arderns school-years talents didnt stop there.
She knew her way around a chess board, having helped to win the chess shield for her house, and had stood strong on the student council as president.
I remember helping to win the chess shield for my House. I dont know what that said about my future other than nerd.
The Morrinsville Intermediate 50th Jubilee will be held on April 10, 2021 from 10am to 4pm at the school grounds. Past students, staff and board of trustees members are invited to complete the registration form. More information can be found on the Facebook page.
Students at Morrinsville Intermediate listen carefully to the prime minister.

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