The Cook Islands government says new ground has been achieved in its partnership with China, which is funding the rebuild of a Rarotonga primary school that burnt down three years ago.
Prime Minister Henry Puna said for the first time, China had allowed the design, build and specifications of the project to be determined by a recipient country.
He said this reflected the deepening relationship and trust between the two nations.
Once completed, Mr Puna says Apii Nikao school will set the benchmark for future school developments throughout the country.
The Secretary of Education Gail Townsend said the new school will accommodate 500 students and 40 staff and draw on the cultural heritage of the local area.