Education Gazette centenary digital issue

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Special 2021 commemorative edition

Marking Education Gazette’s Centenary



The many threads of early learning in Aotearoa In conversation with Emeritus Professor Helen May, Education Gazette explores aspects of the history of early learning in New Zealand. This is the first of a two-part series.


t was 1975 and with nine years’ primary teaching experience in play-based junior classes, Helen was keen to return to teaching following maternity leave after the birth of her first child. A hunt for childcare for babies in Wellington was fruitless, the exception being the Victoria University Crèche that had a centre for ‘under twos’. So instead, Helen completed degrees in anthropology and education and became a part-time ‘childcare worker’ at the crèche – the term ‘teacher’ was not used in childcare then. “This was a wonderful place for children, bursting with creative play – including for the babies,” recalls Helen. “Several staff had Playcentre qualifications. It was also a wonderful place for student mothers. Quite a few women professors of my generation are indebted to the university crèches.” In 1978, Helen was appointed the co-ordinating supervisor at the crèche. This marked a turning point in terms of her commitment to early childhood education and in particular advocacy for childcare (later termed education and care). She worked with Sonja Davies, Ros Noonan and childcare workers to establish the Early Childhood Workers Union and became the union’s first president in 1982. Researching the history and politics of childcare for her master’s thesis that same year was the start of researching the wider history and politics of early years education; this body of work is ongoing, with 15 book publications to date. “The early childhood sector of today, with its range of services, has roots stretching back 150 years with do-it yourself endeavours by groups, mainly women, on a mission for education reform, social change and social justice. “Advocacy and protest characterises its development and acceptance as part of the education system. Much has been achieved, but there are ongoing campaigns,” says Helen.

Staff of the Mt Albert Day Nursery guiding children into the nursery vehicle, 1947. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: PAColl-5936-51. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22319178

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Kindergarten movement

The first kindergarten was established by Frederich Froebel in Germany in 1837, with the idea arriving in New Zealand in the 1870s. Kindergartens presented a radical model of education with a curriculum of blocks, outdoor play and gardening, games, music, movement and craft occupations.

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Teacher demonstrating Froebel’s first block gift at Walker St Kindergarten, Dunedin. Otago Witness, 16 July 1902 (out of copyright).

Morning tea at Logan Campbell Kindergarten. NZ Graphic, 8 May 1912 (out of copyright).


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The first kindergartens in New Zealand were established by a few progressive primary schools and infant classrooms gradually adopted some kindergarten activities. The first free kindergartens for city children ‘on the streets’ were established in Auckland and Dunedin in the 1880s. Overall, the numbers of children attending was small. Nevertheless, political and education interest was strong but there was resistance to incorporating kindergartens into the school system due to cost. Kindergartens were dependent on charitable fundraising – even after a small government subsidy per child began in 1909. By 1914, there were kindergarten associations operating in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. A national organisation was established in 1926 with a total of 28 free kindergartens. However, in 1931, with the backdrop of the Depression, the kindergarten subsidy was removed. While this came as a blow for the sector, it also helped to galvanise support across society for the work of kindergartens. The subsidy was reinstated in 1935, along with increased support for kindergartens. These efforts were interrupted by the war, but the idea of government-supported pre-school became part of the postwar blueprint for education. In 1945, a Preschool Consultative Committee was established including representatives from kindergarten, school, Plunket and the fledging Playcentre movement. The Committee’s report was released in 1947, recommending that the state take over the kindergartens. This did not happen due to objections from kindergarten organisations and a partnership compromise was agreed: Government had regulatory control and funded the infrastructure of a national kindergarten system. Ownership remained with kindergarten associations. Thereafter, every town and suburb embarked on establishing their own kindergarten. Waiting lists grew to meet the demand and did not subside until the 1980s.

Education and childcare movement

Parallel to the growth of kindergartens were the first institutions providing all-day childcare for the children of working mothers. Gaining support for these nurseries and crèches was a harder road. Short-lived attempts were made to establish crèches in the 1870s and 1880s. There was resistance to the potential of encouraging mothers to work, or providing a childcare solution for unmarried mothers. In the early 1900s, three successful charitable/church crèches were established in Wellington, Auckland and Gisborne, alongside ventures for the ‘unfortunate’ such as a maternity home for unmarried mothers, a soup kitchen and an orphanage. By the 1930s there were a

Children at Logan Campbell Kindergarten in Auckland. NZ Graphic, 22 Nov 1911 (out of copyright).

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“The early childhood sector of today, with its range of services, has roots stretching back 150 years with do-it yourself endeavours by groups on a mission for education reform, social change and social justice.” Helen May Tukutuku Kōrero


few community crèches, some with City Council funding now seen as a support to mothers. During the war, some workplace nurseries were established. The government asked kindergarten associations to open day nurseries. Auckland Association firmly rejected the idea, but in Wellington three full-day kindergarten nurseries were established.

Challenges through the decades

The 1947 preschool report did not support proposals to fund day nurseries as they “deprived children of normal family life” and there was the issue of cost. “So childcare faded from the government agenda and became hidden from view, in contrast to the rapidly expanding half-day playcentre and kindergarten that did not contravene ideals of a breadwinner father and an athome mother,” explains Helen. The post-war years were a time of economic growth and more mothers were working. A raft of childcare centres, nurseries and crèches, both private and community-owned, discreetly opened in family homes, halls and backyards. Some provided caring environments, although mainly with untrained staff. Others were more akin to baby-farming and harmful. It took a newsworthy crisis and scandal to shed light on this. In 1958, police raided a home in Auckland declaring ‘it was too shocking to give all the details’. They found a child with a broken leg and children with skin infections. The owner was caught running away. Within three weeks, Mabel Howard (Minister of Child Welfare) announced the introduction of regulations. The 1960 regulations placed ‘childcare’ centres under the government umbrella of welfare, not education. There were other challenges. Most centres could not meet the standards and only 41 centres initially attained a license. There was no funding to support centres to upgrade or train staff to meet the requirements for an A-grade licence. The education component only required that ‘suitable toys be available’.

Advocacy and subsidies

Sonja Davies (later an MP and recipient of the Order of New Zealand) was the licensee of the Nelson Day Nursery whose landlord refused to install another toilet. This prompted the formation in 1963 of the New Zealand Association of Childcare Centres, as an advocacy voice on behalf of childcare. The first subsidies to parents who could not afford fees began in 1973. Not until 1984 did subsidies for trained staff begin as a consequence of huge advocacy from union and women’s organisations. In 1987 childcare was shifted into the Department of Education alongside kindergarten and playcentre, although each was funded differently. An early childhood movement was now emerging. In 1989 the government’s Before Five reforms created a uniform administrative, regulatory and funding framework in an attempt to improve equity within the sector but some entrenched inequities remained.


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Playcentre movement

The first Playcentre – a parent-led early childhood centre – was established in Wellington in 1941 as a support to women whose husbands were at war but also as a smallscale initiative whose founders had an awareness of progressive education ideas and the psychological needs of children and mothers. Operating with fewer children in makeshift accommodation with volunteer mothers, a Playcentre was easier to establish than a kindergarten that required government-approved plans, funding and teachers. Unlike kindergarten there was not a whiff of charitable philanthropy and the organisers decided against fundraising. By 1946 there were 40 Playcentres. The distinctive belief of Playcentre was that parents are the best teachers and parent education became the hallmark. The first training course was underway by 1945, spearheaded later by the arrival of Gwen Somerset in Wellington in 1948 combining both early child and parent education. Somerset’s book I play and I grow (1949) became the philosophical guide for Playcentre and a standard text for kindergarten. With the post-war demand by families for pre-school education, Playcentre expanded across towns, suburbs and into rural areas too small for kindergartens. Playcentre provided what academic and political activist,

Student Kindergarten teachers demonstrating teaching methods, ca 1928. Wellington Free Kindergarten Association: Photographs. Ref: PAColl-0981-1-09-1. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/23051350

Geraldine McDonald described as an “acceptable career for mothers at home”. As childcare grew, Playcentre supervisors became its mainstay staffing, making play and education more visible and routines more relaxed. By the 1980s, with more mothers in employment, Playcentre numbers had declined, but to this day, Playcentre still meets the needs of families wanting a hands-on involvement in the early education of their children.

Māori activism for early education

Prior to the 1960s, few Māori children attended preschool. Throughout the 1960s there was a flurry of reports promoting the idea of Māori children benefitting from preschool – initially by encouraging attendance at a kindergarten or Playcentre. This did happen – particularly in Playcentre, but Pākehā institutions felt alien to many Māori families. Sponsored by the Māori Education Foundation and the Māori Women’s Welfare League, many Māori communities established their own preschools, typically in schools, marae and halls, and with some affiliated to Playcentre. By the 1970s most of the preschools had ceased to function. The mainly voluntary task was too huge to sustain. Soon to be established in its place was a

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movement driven by significant Māori concern for the revival of te reo Māori. The kōhanga reo (language nest) movement was based on the strategy that the language should be ‘caught’ rather than ‘taught’ in the early years with the child learning the language in the context of an immersion environment. Under the auspices of Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust comprising founding representatives from the Department of Māori Affairs, the Māori Education Foundation, Māori Women’s Welfare League and the New Zealand Māori Council, kōhanga reo were rapidly established around the country. The Waitangi Tribunal noted in its 1986 Te Reo report: “A remarkable thing has happened. During the last three years an extraordinarily vital development has taken place among Maori people. This is the Kohanga Reo Movement.” Indeed, between 1982 and 1985, almost 400 kōhanga reo were formed with more than 6,000 mokopuna attending – explosive growth compared to mainstream preschool formats. The Trust oversaw development of the movement; kaumatua and kuia, fluent in Māori were brought out of retirement to immerse the children and whānau in te reo. Adults were immersed in tikanga and te reo, initially using what affectionately became known as the Blue Book Syllabus and were able to be awarded a Kōhanga Reo

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National Trust Certificate as they became kaiako (teachers or instructors) themselves. Overall, kōhanga reo funding remained with the Department of Māori Affairs until the 1989 Before Five reforms. At the same time, kōhanga reo were brought under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education and were thus treated by the Crown as part of the education sector.

Pacific patterns

The mid-1980s saw the emergence of what were initially called Pacific Islands Language Nests by different Pacific communities, showcasing the language and culture of their respective Island group for children mainly born in New Zealand. The first reported Pacific group was in Tokoroa in 1972-3 established by Samoan and Cook Islands women. There were Samoan and Cook Islands initiatives in the early 1980s in Wellington and Auckland with around 10 Language Nests by 1984, rapidly increasing to around 172 by 1990. Support came from Pacifica women’s organisations and churches, but centres did not meet the criteria for government funding. A’oga Fa’a Samoa attached to Richmond Road School in Auckland became the first licensed Pacific centre in 1990. The issue of qualifications was a barrier. This was resolved when the renamed New Zealand Childcare Association established a fast-track course for four women with teaching qualifications not recognised in New Zealand. With the awarding of the Association’s Childcare Certificate, these women ran training courses among Pacific communities under the umbrella of the association. This was the fledgling beginning of a distinctive Pacific early education movement, one that had many distinctive cultural patterns from respective Pacific Islands.

Professionalism and parity

The issue of qualifications has been a challenge to each early childhood service. From its beginnings in Germany the kindergarten movement held to the idea of the professional teacher. Kindergarten Associations in New Zealand established their own training, with students working in kindergartens in the morning and studying in the afternoon. This was the pattern until the 1948 when government-funded two-year courses in the four city associations. “Kindergarten teachers were always disadvantaged compared with primary teachers, even after kindergarten training shifted into Teachers Colleges in 1974 with a two-year diploma compared with the three-year primary diploma.


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Kindergarten pedagogy

“There were positives in this move but kindergarten pedagogy was undermined by the dominance of the school subjects with primary teaching staff often winning appointments over kindergarteners,” says Helen. Similarly, the New Zealand Association of Childcare Centres established its own field-based childcare certificate. In 1975, after much advocacy, a one-year certificate course began at Wellington Polytechnic. This was followed in the 1980s by one-year courses offered in Teachers Colleges. Neither childcare nor kindergartens were happy with their lot and campaigned for training programmes equal to primary. Eventually in 1987, the Government announced a three-year integrated early childhood diploma. There was some regret amongst kindergartners at the loss of their stand-alone kindergarten qualification.

Unified movement

This was a huge policy win and again hastened the move towards a more unified early childhood movement, says Helen. The programmes were launched across 1988-1990 and later became degree programmes. The Childcare Association similarly upgraded its certificate to a fieldbased diploma and later a degree. Equivalence with primary teacher education removed a barrier to the long campaign by kindergarten teachers for pay parity with primary teachers, which began in 1973 but not won until 2002. Teachers working in childcare immediately began a campaign for pay parity. Helen’s academic career in early years education coincided with these new political times. With an appointment to Hamilton Teachers College in 1987, and in 1995 as the New Zealand’s first Professor of Early Childhood Education at Victoria University, and later in 2005 as the foundation Dean of the University of Otago College of Education, she has relished the opportunity to be involved in creating a graduate, postgraduate and research culture in early childhood education, as well as continued engagement in political advocacy as early childhood education battled for recognition and funding. The second part of this article will be published in Issue 5, Volume 100 of the Education Gazette, the next special centenary edition to be published this year. References: Helen May, ‘I am five and I go to School’ Early years schooling in NZ 1900-2010, I (Otago University Press, 2011); Discovery of Early Childhood (2nd edition) (NZCER Press, 2013); Politics in the Playground: The world of early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand (3rd edition), (Otago University Press, 2019).

Playground at a Playcentre in Eastbourne, 1944. Original photographic prints and postcards from the file print collection, Box 19. Ref: PAColl-7985-80. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22767382.

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Collecting back our knowledge Education Gazette profiles celebrated Māori leader Mina Pomare-Peita, with a focus on her mahi with rangatahi and the environment.

Students and whānau enjoying their Noho Taiao experience.


n a breathless summer’s day, up a remote river valley north of Mitimiti in the Far North, the buzzing of bees and the song of tūī are interrupted by the sounds of quad bikes and human voices. A group of rangatahi, perhaps 30 young Māori boys and girls, come into view around the river bend, laughing and teasing, excited to discover the large swimming hole opening out before them. Adults are with them, all in shorts and singlets. There’s a holiday feeling, and yet a serious element surrounds the group as they gather around to inspect one of the noxious weeds that grows rampant in the area.


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“It’s important that we know how to look after our land, especially our Māori land,” one of the rangatahi says. This is music to the ears of Mina Pomare-Peita, the tireless principal of Te Kura Taumata o Panguru – a composite school that teaches Years 1-13, comprising around 100 students – and tumuaki of the award-winning Noho Taiao, a series of camps for the environment that she’s been running for more than a decade. It was this initiative that brought this group of college-age students together for six days in their January holidays to stay on local marae and learn about the land of which they are kaitiaki.

Initially a once-a-year event for students not just from Panguru but from schools throughout the Te Rarawa rohe, the noho now comprise three events per year, with two shorter ones in the winter months including pupils from all five of the Te Hiku o te Ika (Northland) iwi. Up to 50 tamariki attend the summer camps, and up to 60 come to the winter events where they learn species identification, water quality monitoring, planting, pest control and rongoā (Māori health) practices.

Longstanding dedication

Mina’s work has been recognised with awards from the Northland Regional Council. In 2019, the Noho Taiao won the Kaitiakitanga award at the Northland Regional Council’s inaugural Environmental Awards, runner-up to the supreme winner. In 2020, Mina herself was nominated by her fellow teachers at Panguru School, and was highly commended in the Kaitiakitanga category, the commendation stating: “Whaea Mina Pomare-Peita – For her longstanding dedication to education and developing our future leaders through the use of Mātauranga Māori.” More recently, Mina has been appointed to Te Hiku o Te Ika Conservation Board. And she is delighted that Te Kura Taumata o Panguru has been named a finalist in this year’s Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.

Mātauranga Māori

It all began back in 2008 when Mina had a conversation with her friend Paul White, a member of the Te Rarawa negotiating team who for many years had been working towards the iwi’s Treaty of Waitangi settlement. The settlement was nearing its final form. The return of some of the iwi historic land, including the transfer of two farms, was imminent. “When we get our land back, what happens?” Mina asked. “We become co-managers,” Paul replied. “But our people don’t have the skills or the education, the mātauranga,” she said. It was, for this lifelong educator, a moment of powerful realisation. Much traditional knowledge about how to care for the land had been lost. Māori learned to farm in the colonisers’ way, as if they were somehow separate from the taiao, from the environment around them. They no longer knew the stories that intimately connected them to the land, the forest and ocean. They did not have ingrained within themselves the whakataukī: Tiakina te taiao, tiakina te iwi e – If you look after the environment, the environment will look after you.

“How do you sustain what you’re doing in the environment? Well, you teach your children to become kaitiaki. You make them believe that they are kaitiaki of their land.” Mina Pomare-Peita

Embracing kaitiakitanga

Mina knew this at first hand. She grew up on a farm just a few kilometres west of Panguru, and from her earliest years, encouraged by her parents and nannies to think critically about the world around her, had observed and challenged the practices that are the hallmark of modern agriculture – the pouring of chemicals onto the land, the stocking of cattle that damage the texture of the land and the quality of the waterways, the milk tankers that arrive and take the milk away to unknown destinations.

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Mina Pomare-Peita demonstrating her passion for teaching and the environment.

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As a teenager, Mina left Panguru for St Dominic’s Catholic College in Auckland, followed by university and then several years establishing the rumaki at what was to become Western Springs College – a total immersion unit within a mainstream context, still successful today. She returned home to Panguru in 1996 and set about strengthening the school’s commitment to te reo Māori and building strong connections between kura and community. Now she wondered how she could prepare her students, the young people of Te Rarawa,to live by, and for, the taiao. “Kaitiakitanga means sustainability,” she says. “How do you sustain what you’re doing in the environment? Well, you teach your children to become kaitiaki. You make them believe that they are kaitiaki of their land.” She realised it was about getting the young people actually out into the whenua so that they could grow a love for the taiao. Mina has such a passion for the environment that in 2020, after a heavy storm ripped open a disused landfill at Fox Glacier, spreading rubbish across a huge area of river bed and coast, she took eight of her students on the twoday journey south to help with the clean-up. The students saw for themselves the degradation of the taiao, says Mina.

At her request, the Catholic agency Caritas developed a curriculum guide to Te Warawara Ngāhere – the forest that grows over the steep hills of the North Hokianga, dramatically framing Panguru in majestic green, described by Dame Whina Cooper as “the living spiritual being of Te Rarawa”. Te Warawara is home to many threatened native species including North Island kiwi and kaka, bats and karearea, the New Zealand falcon. The curriculum includes activities, worksheets and lesson plans and is aimed at both inspiring and educating primary and secondary school students. In tandem with the curriculum, Mina’s school has held extended debates on the 1080 question, and has also developed a virtual reality programme, as well as a graphic novel and a play. “We’re telling our story so that our children know,” Mina says. And, of course, her students have fun. Back in that remote river valley, hot sun pouring down, the students of the Noho Taiao have finished learning about noxious weeds. It’s time for a break, and they do what any other teenagers would do, plunging joyfully into the cool, drifting river.

Applying real-world science

To begin with, it was all done on the smell of an oily rag. Funding was not available, and so Mina and her team did it all themselves. “I live on a farm so I’ve got three freezers of food. We had my good friend Ray Henwood who was a physicist and a science teacher at Northland College, and I can deliver biology up to Level 3.” Now, the University of Auckland contributes $5000 a year, and expert input has come through Mina’s developing relationships with significant Crown Research Institutes, so that scientists from GNS, Niwa, and other CRIs all come to teach the young students. For some students there’s no doubt this has translated into careerthinking. But the Noho Taiao aren’t just about bringing specialised Western science to the rangatahi. They are a radical reclaiming of Māori knowledge – a powerful partnership of Mātauranga Māori, based on a sustainable relationship with the natural world, and Western science. Mina says the food, the trees, all the life of Aotearoa, was categorised within the Western system of knowledge. “Our job, what we live for today, is about recovering. We are reframing, we are collecting back our knowledge.” She wants her students to learn to work within the land. “Learn to touch it, feel it, smell it, sound it out. It’s all about applying science in the real world.”

Inspiring curriculum

Mina’s environmental work doesn’t begin and end with the Noho Taiao. Far from it. The taiao is fully integrated into the life of her school.


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Te Kura Taumata o Panguru is backdropped by Te Warawara Ngāhere, described by Dame Whina Cooper as “a living spiritual being”. Her mahi is remembered with this statue at Panguru. Photo courtesy of Willow-Jean Prime.

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Reflections of a teacher aide Education Gazette talks to 101-year-old Mae Palmer about her career. Mae worked as a teacher aide from 1965 at Papatoetoe North School, then at Murray’s Bay Primary School from 1971 until her retirement.

Mae Palmer with son Robert (left) and grandson Matthew Palmer.


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What led you to become a teacher aide? Mae: My husband passed away on a Sunday from a heart attack, and I found myself with four dependent children. I had been a housewife looking after the family. In discussion with the principal at Papatoetoe North, they offered me a position at the school as a teacher’s aide, looking after any sick students and providing support to the full staff by way of providing work sheets and teaching supplies. This enabled me to earn an income and still look after my youngest child, who was only five and had just started at Papatoetoe North. What did the job entail back in 1965? Mae: The work really was to be total support for staff by providing resources that they required in the classrooms, ensuring morning tea and afternoon was provided for them at break time and looking after any students who need first aid. Did the nature of your job change much over the years, from when you started, until when you retired? Mae: The role never changed much over the years working at the school, other than the advancement of the material that teachers required. I also assisted with the finance when necessary and this happened more when we moved to the North Shore and I started at Murray’s Bay School. Also, the First Aid requirements advanced as we became aware that students sometimes needed to have special medications while at school. The role was always to provide support to staff students and also parents. Did you enjoy working as a teacher aide? What were the best bits? Mae: I loved the work and it really provided me great satisfaction serving the needs of those who cared for students. There were so many best parts it is hard to single any one out.

And the worst bits? Mae: I would have to be honest to say the times I really did not enjoy my work was when I felt the interests of the students were not always the very first consideration, or when a few people did not really give 100 percent to the job. Do you have any particularly vivid, funny or poignant memories of your time as a teacher aide? Mae: There are so many really as we would always have something to laugh about. I do remember one time telling the teachers that my old clock radio was not working so I put it in a cooling oven at home, which must have removed the moisture that caused the radio to not work. Great success with a simple solution. After a Christmas break one of the very dear male Scottish teachers came in and said “Where is that Mrs Palmer? I am still scraping my radio off the bottom of my oven!” We all did laugh about it as you should never give a man a woman’s job. What did you do when you retired from your work as a teacher aide? Mae: When I retired, I continued working but as a volunteer running an opportunity shop for Murray’s Bay Baptist Church, that provided financial support to the Baptist City Mission, which provided food and shelter to those who were homeless in the inner city.

“I loved the work and it really provided me great satisfaction serving the needs of those who cared for students. ” Mae Palmer

She is our hero! Robert Palmer, Mae’s youngest son, reflects on his mum’s contribution. Mum will turn 102 on 25 February 2021 and is still singing and smiling most of the time. I am sure her giving, encouraging, servant heart is the reason she is still with us. I look at my mother and realise her greatest gift to me as her youngest son has been the example of serving others first. When my father passed away when I was five, my mother became both a father and a mother. My mum lived through World War II and volunteered

as an ambulance driver in Glasgow. The world has changed so much since she was born in 1919, yet her values have not changed. She is our hero! Mum’s account highlights that while our awesome teachers care for the children of our country, behind them is another tier of support, assisting them to be able to do that. New Zealand is a country that can be proud that we are one, seeking the very best for each other. The world will see that when we care for each other we can achieve almost anything together.

Editor's note: Sadly, Mae passed away on 13 January 2021. The Gazette would like to thank her son Robert for the opportunity to share her story.

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As a nation, we’re doing a much better job of valuing language and culture in a child’s learning than we were 40 years ago, says Jan Taouma.


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Providing a language pathway A Samoan language pathway in Auckland starting at early childhood has helped affirm the importance of language and culture from the very beginning of a child’s education.


t was the early 1980s and Jan Taouma and her husband had recently returned to New Zealand from Samoa. They were inspired by the burgeoning kōhanga reo movement that was rapidly growing momentum. What if they could set up a similar concept for children of Samoan heritage? “There had been a big push when the first wave of immigrants came over to New Zealand to make sure they were good Kiwis and everyone spoke English. But they realised this could be of detriment to the language in the future,” says Jan.

From humble beginnings to rapid growth

Jan and her husband, who had been involved in early childhood education in Samoa, joined a group that aimed to set up a Samoan early learning centre in Auckland. They formed an incorporated society and established A’oga Fa’a Samoa Incorporated in 1984. The centre was initially run out of what was then the Pacific Island Resource Centre in Herne Bay. “I used to drive a van around Grey Lynn and Ponsonby and pick the children up,” recalls Jan. Then in around 1987 they relocated to Richmond Road Primary School in Ponsonby. “The school had this innovative principal and he could see the importance of Pacific and Māori children learning in their own languages. He started up language units – a Māori one and then a Samoan one in 1986.” Jan’s children attended the school, and she approached

the principal with the suggestion of moving their centre onto the school site so that children could transition into the language unit when they started school. The school agreed it was a good idea and A’oga Fa’aSamoa has operated from the school site ever since. It has grown a lot in that time. Initially they ran from 9am to 12pm, but as women started working more, they extended their operating hours to meet demand. There was a push for babies and toddlers to be looked after so they extended the centre and built an infants and toddlers area. “And all that time we ran transitional programmes to help children progress into the language unit at school.”

Smooth transitions

Based on what she’s witnessed at their centre, Jan is a strong advocate for providing clear and easy transitions between early learning and school. She says the Aoga Amata system, which began in the 1980s, with early childhood centres established as part of churches, was a really good initiative but lacked the continuation into primary school. “I think having the centre on the school site is key to getting communities involved in education. For children, it makes the transition process so easy. Their brothers and sisters and cousins all go, and families get involved from the beginning, right through. Parents start on a management committee at the centre, then they go on to be on the board of trustees in the primary school.”

“We’ve got children coming to us now whose parents attended here. A lot of New Zealand-born children have missed out on learning the language and they realise how important it is and they want it for their children.” Jan Taouma 3 May 2021

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There is now a language pathway right through to intermediate with Kōwhai Intermediate starting its own Samoan language unit as well. Jan says the parents are the backbone of this pathway. “We’ve got children coming to us now whose parents attended here. A lot of New Zealand-born children have missed out on learning the language and they realise how important it is and they want it for their children.”

“There was also a big push for all early childhood teachers to be trained and registered. But then when they went back to their centres to work, the centres couldn’t afford to employ them in the same way. So, centres lost a lot of teachers because they went to teach in mainstream so they were able to support their families. That’s been a big struggle to get that recognised and worked through.”

Barriers and challenges

In Jan’s view, it was worth all the hard work to get where they are today. As a nation we’re doing a much better job of valuing language and culture in a child’s learning than we were 40 years ago, she says. Jan is pleased to see that the Ministry of Education’s Pacific Education Action Plan, released last year, reaffirms the importance of language and culture in a child’s learning. And she only has to look at the academic, sporting and musical successes of former students to know that they must be doing something right. “The centre’s been around as long as me, so it’s pretty wonderful to see the successes that have come from it.”

It hasn’t been easy to get where they are though, she says. “It’s been quite a hard, tough road to get to where we are now in terms of Government support and funding. “Parents don’t realise that early childhood centres operate as a business and you’ve got to pay GST and IRD and have all of your employment things in place, and there’s a whole lot of regulation. That’s been very difficult for a lot of centres and many have floundered because of that. So support systems to help and guide centres are really important. It’s slowly happening now but it’s been quite a hard journey for a lot of centres.

Heading in the right direction

“The centre’s been around as long as me, so it’s pretty wonderful to see the successes that have come from it.” Jan Taouma

Play and learning in session at A’oga Fa’a Samoa.


Education Gazette

Jan Taouma.

3 May 2021

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Understand, Know, Do:

a framework to inspire deep and meaningful learning The New Zealand Curriculum refresh is underway, signalling a major next step in the development of our national curriculum. In this article, we explore some of the changes, including Understand, Know and Do – the new framing in Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum content.

The AOTEAROA installation project is part of Sylvia Park School’s ‘Aotearoa: Our Story: Nau Mai, Haere Mai’ inquiry.


Education Gazette


he purpose of The New Zealand Curriculum refresh, including the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum content, is to inspire and guide the kind of learning that will enable young people to be confident, connected, and actively involved members of society; the kind of learning that will support them and their communities to thrive. A key consideration in refreshing our national curriculum is the need to enable schools and teachers to understand and give effect to national aspirations, while at the same time providing enough flexibility to be responsive to what ākonga, whānau, iwi and community see as important.

Journey to today’s curriculum refresh

There has long been a focus on delivering a broad and balanced national curriculum, although its content and structure has varied over the years to reflect society’s changing views about what is important for young people’s learning. From 1961 to 1986, content-focused syllabuses, guidelines and textbooks prescribed what teachers should teach, with a focus on subject mastery measured by tests and exams. The 1980s saw the development of a draft of New Zealand’s first national curriculum but it was sidelined by the reform of the administration of education in 1989 and by a change of government in 1990.  Curriculum development resumed in 1991 and New Zealand shifted to an outcomes-focused curriculum design. It was thought that a focus on outcomes would lead to more equitable patterns of achievement because it would give schools the flexibility to try different approaches to teaching, while keeping a focus on the outcomes that mattered.

Dual curricula were developed to reflect Māorimedium and English-medium pathways.

Overarching vision

In 2007, The New Zealand Curriculum as we know it today was born, with its overarching vision, and description of the essential nature of each learning area. Learning areas remained divided into eight levels with each level made up of achievement objectives that outlined what was to be achieved. The levels were only loosely associated with years at school as it was expected that, within any classroom, students would be working at a range of levels and progressing at their own pace. The Kōrero Mātauranga | Education Conversation in 2018 captured 43,000 New Zealanders’ hopes and aspirations for ākonga. Equipped with this information, a Ministerial Advisory Group investigated Curriculum, Progress and Achievement in 2018-2019. Their fundamental question was: how do we strengthen the use of the national curriculum in understanding and supporting all ākonga to progress and achieve, and enriching their opportunities to learn? The group identified that significant changes to the national curriculum were needed to make it equitable and fit for purpose and the future, with a clear commitment to upholding Te Tiriti o Waitangi. “We are focussed on improving equity and excellence in an education system that serves and grows diverse learners,” says Pauline Cleaver, Ministry of Education’s Associate Deputy Secretary, Curriculum, Pathways & Progress. “It’s best captured by the idea that ‘the curriculum fits the child’. We want to help make sure that every learner leaves school with the skills, capabilities, and knowledge they need for success in work and life.”

“When we deliver equally on these [Understand, Know and Do], our students will be informed. They will be active and passionate learners who will go on to make a difference in the world.” Barbara Ala’alatoa

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Framing learning

The draft Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum content signals a move from an outcomes-focused curriculum to a progression-focused curriculum, one that recognises ways in which learners’ knowledge, understanding, and capabilities grow and deepen over time. The ‘Understand, Know, Do’ structure encompasses: » Understand: the big ideas » Know: rich contexts for exploring the big ideas » Do: practices that bring rigour to learning Each of these elements has a separate focus. They don’t need to be used in a certain sequence, instead they enhance each other. Students deepen their understanding of the big ideas as they explore the context (know) using the critical inquiry practices (do). When the three threads are woven together, they create the learning all ākonga should get the opportunity to experience, learning that cannot be left to chance. The Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum content is structured this way to help teachers design learning experiences that weave these elements together so that student learning is deep and meaningful. The ‘Understand, Know, Do’ framing will be applied to all learning areas as they are refreshed, making it easier for teachers to explore opportunities to integrate across curriculum areas.

‘Understand, Know, Do’ in action

Barbara Ala’alatoa, principal of Sylvia Park School in Auckland, says ‘Understand, Know and Do’ has always been a fundamental part of their inquiry process.





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The big ideas

“’Understand’, ‘know’ and ‘do’ are of equal importance; they need each other,” says Barbara. “Any understanding, any inquiry that is absent of knowledge – the ‘know’ – runs the risk of being fluff, and any inquiry that is absent of the big and enduring and connecting ideas – the ‘understand’ – runs the risk of being irrelevant to our learners in the here and now. “Any inquiry that is absent of the practices that bring rigour to learning – the ‘do’ part – runs the risk of not motivating, challenging and engaging our learners, let alone inspiring them to act on what they’ve learned. When we deliver equally on these, our students will be informed. They will be active and passionate learners who will go on to make a difference in the world,” she explains. Barbara describes how the ‘Understand, Know, Do’ framing was incorporated into an inquiry Sylvia Park School did in 2018 called ‘Keep calm and carry on: how do we deal with conflict?’. The knowledge component drew on the 100-year commemoration of World War I and they developed an inquiry question that aimed to make World War I relevant to learners: how do we deal with and respond to conflict? “Now that’s something everybody can connect to. Learners could make comparisons to stories about reaching agreements to end conflicts, or ways in which people supported each other through conflict. Suddenly, World War I meant something to them. It also gave the learners a sense of connection, identity and belonging by learning about and relating to a really important event, in our place, Aotearoa. “However, it’s one thing to know what students will learn in terms of knowledge and big understandings


Rich contexts for exploring the big ideas

Practices that bring rigour to learning

that cannot be left to chance

that might be developed. It’s quite another thing to develop ways in which learners will develop strategies to process and truly engage in their learning in a way that will bring about deep understanding and active participation. “And that is why I’m really excited to see the ‘do’ part of the ‘understand, know, do’ framing, and the discussion relating to the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum.” Barbara says the ‘do’ part is an essential part of learning. “These are processes by which we ensure that students develop multiple perspectives on a controversial perspective; that they’ve sourced valid and reliable information from a whole range of sources, not just the ones they like. “They’ve sorted and synthesised ideas, actions or events that they’ve had to compare and contrast; knowledge and ideas that they’ve actively constructed or reconstructed; and events or scenarios. And [these processes ensure] that they’ve taken action as a result of this rigorous learning they’ve undertaken. “The thing about the ‘do’ part of the framework is that it helps us to ensure maximum contribution and participation in their learning as well as a consideration of what they will do as a result of their learning,” concludes Barbara.

Sylvia Park School principal Barbara Ala’alatoa says the Understand, Know, Do framework is a fundamental part of their inquiry process.

Listen to the podcast with Sylvia Park School principal Barbara Ala’alatoa talking about the ‘Understand, Know, Do’ framework in action.

National curriculum refresh Over the next five years, Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga, the Ministry of Education, is undertaking a refresh of the national curriculum, which includes The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories and Te Takanga o Te Wā mark the first step towards the changes in the respective curriculum documents. Information on the refresh of The New Zealand Curriculum can be found at, and on the redesign of Te Marautanga o Aotearoa at

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To help with your implementation journey, regardless of what stage you are at, support guides and resources are available at School leaders can use the poutama with their teachers to identify where they are at and identify their next step: ‘Supporting school leaders to understand and plan for Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories in social sciences’.

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Kohimarama School: 100 years of community, learning and growth As Kohimarama School marks its centennial this year, the community is living with a global pandemic – just as their founders did. The difference in how today’s community is affected is a striking illustration of how times have changed.


hen the doors of Kohimarama School opened in 1921, it was a time of hope and optimism for New Zealand following the devastating loss of life from Spanish Flu (9,000) and the Great War (18,000). Virtually every New Zealand family had been affected by the death or serious wounding of someone close.  Exactly when the Kohimarama School community had planned to be celebrating its 100-year anniversary, it was instead hunkered down under Level 4 Covid-19 restrictions as the nation grappled to contain the Delta outbreak of Covid-19.

Learning in lockdown

Like schools across Aotearoa and particularly those in Tāmaki Makaurau, the teachers and students of Kohimarama School are accustomed to distance learning and connect daily. Almost all learners have their own devices for remote schooling and connect using the learning management system, SchoolTalk. This allows staff to share their learning design and students to engage in the lessons, share their work and enable them to see their progress.

100 years ago: Kohimarama School opened in 1921.


Education Gazette

“We use it on site and we continue using it during lockdown so for us going into Level 4, the learning continued the next day,” says principal Paul Engles.  “The other thing we do is have Google Meets every day, sometimes about work but essentially to connect and have fun. We want to maintain that relationship with the children and support them to stay connected with each other.” That sense of connection and community is a prevalent theme in Kohimarama School’s history. Indeed, the school, originally a branch of nearby St Helier’s School, was founded at the urging of parents who believed the area needed its own school. The one-room schoolhouse opened in 1921 with 54 founding students. Within a year there were three classes with separate groups for junior boys and junior girls, ‘primers’, and a third class for children in Standards 1 and 2. Today the roll is exactly tenfold at 545 students and the school remains on the same two-acre site in the picturesque beachfront suburb. Classes are divided by year, except for three composites in years 0/1, 4/5 and 7/8, and rooms are a mix of single-cell and modern learning environments (MLE). With the roll predicted to increase to 950 by 2030, Paul expects to see the number of classrooms increase to meet growing demand.

The Kohimarama Way

Of course, the style of teaching and learning has changed dramatically from the rote style of yesteryear. Today the school’s culture is centred on ‘The Kohimarama Way’, the school vision supported by a set of values and dispositions

considered most important for tamariki to be learners and citizens.  “Our children are growing up in a constantly changing world where they will encounter different types of jobs, technologies and world challenges. ‘The Kohimarama Way’ underpins how we’re preparing them to succeed in this world by teaching them new ways of learning and working together to solve problems. It supports our desire to develop positive habits and character in our children,” says Paul. “’The Kohimarama Way’ is also incorporated in teacher planning, which means the concepts are actively practiced as part of everyday learning. Each class learns for example: What is honesty? What does it look like? How do we practice it? What are the signs of success that show we have understood the concept?” he adds. Additionally, during break times, teachers are looking for pupils who are showing ‘The Kohimarama Way’ in practical situations and awarded ‘Caught being good’ certificates.

Embracing te reo Māori

Perhaps the biggest difference evident since Kohimarama School’s founding days is its commitment to biculturalism. Teacher in charge of Māori, Kate Cadzow has developed a website, ‘Te Reo at Kohimarama Kura’, devoted entirely to te ao Māori for the school community.  Ākonga can click to find texts, images, and videos in small, digestible chunks to learn te reo, waiata, Māori meditation/whakatau Tinana me Hinengaro, fitness through kanikani/dance, and traditional pastimes including poi and rākau.

Kohimarama School entrance, 1948. Caption.

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Education Gazette

“‘The Kohimarama Way’ underpins how we’re preparing them to succeed in this world by teaching them new ways of learning and working together to solve problems.” Paul Engles Paul says Kate’s work embodies the Kohimarama vision – We dream/moemoeā, we inspire/whakaohooho, we create/waihanga, we empower/whakamana. “She dreams, ‘this is what we could do’, she is inspired by the people around her and the different courses she goes on, she creates – she created the site and the plan for how it would work for our school, and she’s empowering other teachers. All the teachers do the same in their own way, we have a very strong school culture amongst our staff.”

Enduring community support

This team spirit has boosted morale during lockdown when teachers meet online not just for planning but for fun catch ups. Staff also take part in daily quizzes and share new recipes on a cooking blog. In turn, the staff are supported by the school’s PTA, which organises appreciation morning teas and has arranged gift bags for teachers during lockdown.  “Back in 1921 the school had a strong parent community, and we still have that today. Parents want to be actively involved in their child’s education, to support them in any way they can, and they want to support the school,” explains Paul.

Kohimarama School today: learning in action for Room 1 (top) and Room 13 (bottom).

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In 2021, support means rolling with snap lockdowns and all the attached challenges. Big-ticket centennial festivities have been bumped forward to the 101-year mark, early-2022, but the school is still celebrating its milestone this year through a variety of activities. These include a whole-school photograph, a quiz-a-thon with a history theme, and the history of the school interwoven into day-to-day learning is planned. The school is also publishing its own cookbook using recipes supplied by children and families. Next March, the school will stage an art exhibition, host an open day, and throw a 1920s-themed gala dinner.

Anticipated return

In the meantime, learners, whānau and teachers stay connected digitally with an impressive engagement rate of more than 98 percent and look forward to getting back together at Level 2. “We’ll spend much of the first week back settling into school and having fun and playing games, getting to know each other again and getting back into routine,” says Paul. “Students’ wellbeing is our biggest priority and we’re already planning how to help them feel safe when we return.”

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Education Gazette


Embracing the identity of Pacific learners An increasing awareness of learner identity is helping teachers respond to the diverse strengths and needs of Pacific learners.


Understanding the needs and identities of every learner is at the heart of the culture at Rowandale School.

8 February 2021

isiting the Pacific Islands is high on Brittany Wilson-Connal’s wishlist. She is of Cook Island Māori and Samoan descent and was born in New Zealand. Her parents were born in New Zealand. Her five-year-old daughter was born in New Zealand. “We don’t do much with my daughter around her culture at home,” says Brittany. “But she gets exposed to her cultures at school – and not just her cultures, but a wide range.” Brittany’s daughter has just started at Rowandale School in Manurewa, where Brittany also works as a learning support assistant. “Sometimes she’s coming home and she’s teaching me how to say ‘hello’ in Indian and Chinese and her own language, Samoan. She’s also part-Māori from her dad’s side so she’s teaching me some Māori words that I didn’t know before. It’s amazing – she’s teaching us, and her Nana. Which is good. “The language weeks are a bit OTT, but we love it,” Brittany laughs. “But the good thing is we’re not just waiting for the language weeks – cultures are recognised here on a day-to-day basis.” Brittany and her daughter are typical of many of the families at Rowandale School in that they were born in New Zealand and can trace their heritage to several ethnicities. Late last year, Education Gazette met some of the school’s children such as classmates Malynda and Heleina who are both Niuean and Māori. Heleina loves the arts. “We did all sorts of art this year, including cubism and mosaic.” Meanwhile Malynda enjoyed their class project on water. “We learned about tsunamis through that.” Aorangi is Māori and Samoan and loves sports, especially league and basketball. “I got to perform the haka for the kindergarten visit this year,” he says, looking visibly proud as he recalls the occasion. Kaedyn is Cook Island Māori and Samoan. “My favourite thing this year was a project where we got to build rocket ships with bottles and paint.”

It’s all about visibility

With such a wide range of cultures and ethnicities, such a wide range of interests, strengths and needs, are we doing right by our Pacific learners in New Zealand?

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Karl Vasau.

Things have certainly improved since her schooldays, says Roberta Hunter, who is Professor of Pasifika Education Studies at Massey University. Roberta is of Cook Islands and European heritage and recalls that there was no Pacific education in New Zealand when she was at school. “There was no visibility in any of my schooling in the ’50s and ’60s. Right through to the 1990s we were still saying ‘Pacific Islanders’ as one homogenised group and we were teaching children about them as people who lived on an island and climbed coconut trees. It was about ‘this is how they live’. We didn’t see them as people who lived in New Zealand,” says Roberta. “In this century we’ve started looking at the identity of Pacific learners in New Zealand, not just that they came from the islands, but looking at first, second and third generation Pacific people living in New Zealand.” Rowandale School principal Karl Vasau fits this profile. He is of Niuean, Samoan, Tongan and European ancestry, and was born and bred in Grey Lynn, Auckland. “Seventy per cent of Pacific children were born here. Most have never seen a coconut tree. This is their life – right here,” he says.

Shifting the focus

Roberta’s daughter Dr Jodie Hunter says the focus is now shifting to how to make children’s identity central to their learning. “There’s a lot more basic awareness needed around valuing children’s cultural identity. But the missing piece for me in terms of where we need to head is: how to do that in the classroom?

Brittany Wilson-Connal.

“We’re building global citizens and if you want to be a global citizen you have to know where you stand in this world.” Karl Vasau

Georgina Manuele.

“I finished teaching in 2008 and there’s been huge progress since then. I think that critical consciousness has become much more apparent. And that’s a huge first step,” she says. The celebrated Massey researcher says it’s about authenticity. “I think we do things that we think are drawing on cultural heritage, but then when you look at it critically, they’re not really.” Jodie gives an example of a school she visited recently where the teacher was using an exercise using tapa cloth patterns. “The teacher was doing all the right things. But then she asked, ‘How do you make tapa cloth?’ and one of the kids said, ‘We made them in school. You get a piece of paper, and then you soak it in tea and then you draw patterns on it.’ It made


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me really think. That’s so tokenistic and not at all how you make tapa. “Twenty years ago, I guess we would have been celebrating the fact that we were using tapa cloth in the classroom without really critically looking at how. It’s a tricky one because I think teachers do the best they can but we’ve still got a way to go. “I think the point where we need to keep moving is, that you don’t appropriate something like that, that you keep the cultural context as a really important aspect of it, and you show that you value that, so that it becomes integral in our teaching.”

Valuing children’s experiences

Jodie says it’s important to recognise that children have much to contribute to their learning from their own lives. “I feel like 20 years ago the main approach was to give kids experiences. Now teachers are thinking more about ‘what are the kids’ experiences that we can draw on?’” Dr Lesieli Togatio, who has been influential in the development of five Pasifika Education Plans up until 2012, says language, culture and identity has become increasingly valued as an integral part of learning. “What’s important is who you are and what knowledge you have to bring into the system. Half the trouble was, in those days – and it still happens now – is that educators think, ‘Here’s an empty vessel, I can fill that up’, instead of thinking, ‘There’s somebody there – who are they? What do they bring into their learning?’”

Culture and curriculum

Jodie says that by drawing on what children know – their identity, language and culture – teachers can tap into many curriculum areas, including maths, science, art and literacy. “Twenty years ago, we were thinking of art, art, art – we’re now able to see the multitude of different connections we can make. And then you’ve got the processes which you can link to the key competencies in terms of: How do you work together? How do you develop leadership? What roles do people take? What are the values of these sorts of things? And then how do we use these in the classroom?” Both Roberta and Jodie have done a lot of research into mathematics teaching and learning for Pacific students. Roberta explains that the fundamental basis of their work is recognising the social and cultural elements of mathematics and allow children to see themselves in the maths. “So the mathematics they do in their home life should be reflected in what they are asked to do in school,” says Roberta. “For instance, you start to look at tapa and you can see very strong algebraic patterns. It doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to the islands either – and that’s really important – it’s also about reflecting their popular culture, from their daily lives in New Zealand. “Children can start to realise the absolute cleverness that’s involved with constructing those. When they start to see that, they can start to identify mathematically and start to see themselves. “After doing that, the children shift from the familiar to the unfamiliar. So if we can see that patterning and we can work out the algebra involved with that, then we can actually do it in any other setting.

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“Suddenly they can do a whole lot of things that teachers thought they couldn’t do and it’s all because they were struggling with the context of the problem, not actually the maths. And through that they can get a very good sense of identity: ‘Actually as a group of people, aren’t we clever at mathematics?’”

Planting seeds

Karl Vasau believes in encouraging kids to dream big. “The curriculum asks us to provide an education where children can come into a school and see themselves, hear themselves. It’s about building the confidence and pride of these kids in themselves. We’re building global citizens and if you want to be a global citizen you have to know where you stand in this world.” Rowandale School is planning a careers expo, getting their learners as young as five to start dreaming of their future. “It’s about planting the seeds so that our kids firmly believe they can achieve excellence – the top level of what they want, past these gates and past this community.” Karl says an important part of this is for kids to see Pacific people in leadership roles. “There are so many Pacific people in ministerial roles. I could never have imagined that as a kid. There was no such thing.” Lesieli Togatio says we still need more Pacific teachers and leaders in our schools. She wants to see people valued for who they are, and their language not viewed as a barrier to success. “I’m Tongan, my first language is Tongan and I speak English as a second language and I can do well,” she says. In the school context, Karl recalls his experience as a

young principal at Holy Family School. “I would be sitting at my desk, and have people come to my door and say, ‘I’m here to see the principal’. People’s bias is real.” Through what he’s seeing as part of his involvement with the New Zealand Pasifika Principals’ Association, he’s pleased to see this is changing. At Rowandale, 60 per cent of the staff are Māori or Pacific. “The rest are really caring, very proud Pākehā, Indians, Muslim – and all different types of people. I firmly believe, too, that love is love. You don’t have to wear a lava lava and put a flower in your hair to love Pacific kids. They’ll know. They don’t care what you wear. It’s not that surface stuff.”

Partnership with family

Karl says having a diverse staff helps build parent engagement, particularly when staff members can speak parents’ first languages. “But if you understand certain cultures in the Pacific there is real structure between teachers and everyone else. There is a relationship where the teacher has the knowledge and the power. Sometimes that’s a barrier.” Karl says they have tried really hard to incorporate talanoa into everything they do at Rowandale as a way of addressing this barrier. “There are four key aspects of talanoa; any good conversation has to have love, warmth, humour and respect. If you have those four things you can solve the problems of the world. So we’ve incorporated that into our staff meetings, into our team meetings, our appraisal system.

Morning tea time at Rowandale School.


Education Gazette

“We do the same with parent engagement. Usually at a school, the parents turn up and the school already knows what they want the parents to say. And parents know exactly what to say. But with talanoa – talk about nothing, see where it goes.

“And there are the families of the children I taught, who are all grown up now. We’ve been working with the parents as key partners in the project and it’s a different sense from 20 years ago. I think the parents feel more like they’ve got a voice to offer and they’re more likely to be heard.”

Parent voice

Language is part of identity

“Every school in New Zealand should consult with parents, getting their voices on the table. Ask them, ‘What are your dreams and aspirations for your Pasifika children?’ Ask them, ‘How would you like to see your language, identity and culture valued at school?’ Don’t assume.” Karl says a good relationship with parents cannot flourish if there is any blame or deficit thinking at its heart. “It’s about giving their parents the resources, and as a school pulling up our sleeves and getting on with the work. Not worrying about the deficit stuff that we can’t control, but staying focused on the things we can. A child turns up hungry – feed him, who cares? A child turns up without a jacket? Give her a jacket. Who cares? Don’t ask questions, just sort it. Because the moment we start going down that track, it’s someone else’s fault.” Jodie says she has seen a move towards more genuine partnerships between schools and Pacific communities. “We’re moving away from a model where we think our role as educators is to invite parents into the schools and tell them what to do with their kids. I think schools are moving towards this idea that parents and communities can be partners in developing schools’ curriculum and localised contexts,” she says. Jodie is currently working on a research project at Mangere Bridge School, which is where she began her teaching career in the early 2000s.

Valuing parents’ and students’ languages helps build relationships, says Georgina Manuele, Year 2 Team Leader at Rowandale. “I think the biggest problem is that our parents and whānau aren’t encouraged to use their first language. When they attend school, they just think English is the default.” Karl reflects on why this might be. “It’s hard because our languages have become languages of correction, growlings. Sometimes in some families you don’t hear the poetry, romance, love songs. The system we were in didn’t value the language, so why use it?” Roberta says while the renaissance of te reo Māori has helped inspire the revitalisation of Pacific languages, there are different factors at play. “You get a kind of resistance, still, to learning and speaking Cook Island Māori for instance, or going to a school where you’re immersed in speaking this language because you’ve still got the people who say, ‘But we came to this country to learn English’. I think that’s still pervasive.”

Pride in language and culture

Georgine Manuele is eager to develop within her students and their whānau a confidence and pride in their language and culture.

Classmates Malynda and Heleina identify as Niuean and Māori.

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“Language is really important. It defines identity and who each child is. As a teacher I need to understand everyone and what they bring, as a whole, rather than Jane from down the road. Jane comes with a lot of things that make her Jane. And my job is how can I improve and encourage her to develop and progress throughout the year,” she says. Georgina has been involved in the Pacific Early Literacy Programme (PELP) and rolling out the use of dual language books. And she also uses lots of small but effective ways to encourage learning and engagement in people’s first language. In class, she uses simple commands in a range of languages; for example, ‘come here’ is ‘sau ii’ in Samoan, ‘ha’u o’ in Tongan and ‘haere mai’ in Māori. They’ve also held parent fono, encouraging parents to speak their first language. Georgina says her students teach her their languages. “I let the students know that I’m still learning as well, and that it’s okay to take risks.” And alongside language, it’s important to know each individual child, building on his or her interests. Everything the children bring in is valued, she says. “Children come to us with different learning abilities and disabilities. So it’s important that we create a classroom culture where we understand differences. Difference relates to language, the way we look and how we interpret different things.”

Hopes and fears

Georgina is keen to see more resources made available to help her achieve this vision for her learners.


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“It’s great to see that the dual texts are being made available, but there’s still not enough.” She also thinks it’s good to see children being given the opportunity to speak, read and write in their first language, and then introduce English when they are comfortable, but she wishes this could be better reflected in the curriculum progressions frameworks. Roberta’s concerns run deeper; she cites “high-level institutional racism” in New Zealand’s education system. This is reflected in the way many schools collect student data, she says. “Whatever you put down first on a form is what they’re classified as. So if you’ve got a Māori Niuean Tongan student, if they enter Māori first on a form, they’ve lost the Tongan and Niuean. “Even the collection and comparing of achievement data is really assimilation, saying you have to achieve the same, when achievement might really mean something different for different people.”

Pacific and Māori values

Roberta Hunter’s ideal for the future is for schools to be run on the principle and values of Pacific and Māori learners, which are all about collectivism and working together as one. She points to Koru School in Mangere as a shining example of a school where every child has a voice but they all work together, with strong parental involvement. Roberta thinks the Pacific Education Action Plan, released in 2020, amplifies these principles of collectivism and is a good start. But for her, the key word in the plan is ‘action’. “It’s all very well to have these initiatives but we’ve got to work on ‘the how’ for teachers. We’ve got to give them space to learn and that’s a big journey that takes a long time.” Karl is also eager to see action. “It’s not mandated; the risk is that it will sit on the shelf,” he says of the plan. However, he is pleased to see money attached to the implementation of the plan, and he points to the funding earmarked for Pacific wellbeing and the $2.5 million that has been granted for a project run by New Zealand Pasifika Principals’ Association to build leadership competence among Pacific school leaders. “The plan acknowledges so many things that we’ve known about for ages – racism is there, engagement with boys, co-construction with your community. It’s about building critical mass of Pacific leadership and teachers. It’s about supporting those who are there. “All along the way I’ve had Pacific and non-Pacific people champion the way for me. They’re still fighting the cause. It’s a great step and with funding attached, we’ve got a good shot at seeing it actually work,” he says.

To read more about Professor Roberta Hunter and Dr Jodie Hunter's work in action, see the Gazette article: Taking maths into the hearts of communities.

8 February 2021

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Evolution of learning support in Aotearoa

The inclusive learning culture at Manurewa Intermediate School is supported by the Learning Support Delivery Model implemented across the Manurewa Kāhui Ako.

In 1921, children and young people with disabilities in New Zealand were denied education and confined to institutions. A century later, we know that inclusion works for everyone, and celebrate the fact that more than 99 per cent of all learners are enrolled in local schools. What happened in between is the evolution of learning support.


he door to inclusive learning opened when the Education Act 1989 stipulated that children with special educational needs (whether because of disability or otherwise) have the same rights to enrol and receive education as those who do not. However, that law change did not bring schools the services they needed to deliver education to students with disabilities. “Prior to 1989 there was not much support for schools: some specialists and only limited teacher aide money,” says Sally Jackson, former chief advisor for Learning Support at the Ministry of Education. “Schools had to compete for a small pot of funding and the division of resources became unequal between high and lower decile schools.” Special Education 2000 followed with funding lines to make education opportunities more equitable. These included the Special Education Grant to help schools cater to students with mild to moderate needs; the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) for children with the very highest learning needs; and the introduction of Resource Teachers: Learning & Behaviour (RTLB). “We put in ORS for the top one percent of children with the highest needs – we wanted to stress that all children can learn including those with the highest needs,” says Sally. The Ministry partnered with universities to develop post-graduate training and establish RTLB, with an emphasis on learning and strengthening behaviours that promote learning.

Becoming more inclusive

In 2010 the Education Review Office (ERO) reported that half of schools surveyed could be described as inclusive and that the most successful models operated three key principles: » Having ethical standards and leadership that built the culture of an inclusive school. » Having well-organised systems, effective teamwork and constructive relationships that identified and supported the inclusion of students with high and very high needs. » Using innovative and flexible practices that managed the complex and unique challenges related to including students with high and very high needs.


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"...the key to success is collaboration and working as a team and that includes the young person and their family, putting all the ideas together.” ” Sally Jackson

By 2015, ERO reported that three-quarters of schools surveyed were operating an inclusive model. “The ‘mostly inclusive’ schools were more likely to have a coordinated, systematic approach, working strategically to provide for students with special education needs, and ensure they make progress and experience success.” Sally Jackson says inclusion is in language and mindset, as well as practice. She is eager to see a continued shift away from anything that perpetuates an ‘us and them’ kind of attitude. Twenty years ago, she says, there was a tendency to refer to anything relating to a child or a young person with a disability as ‘special education’ and curriculum design would sometimes not include children with learning support needs. “If a family has a child with a disability, they don’t set them aside because they’re different. And nor should schools.”

who needs to do something different. None of us has got all the answers; the key to success is collaboration and working as a team and that includes the young person and their family, putting all the ideas together.” Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs) have played a key role for many years, in leading this collaboration between school and whānau to help support the learning and social needs of students with learning support needs and disabilities. The Learning Support Delivery Model (LSDM) brings together learning support services in a community so all children and young people in that community can benefit from shared expertise. Clusters of schools, kura, early childhood education (ECE) and kōhanga reo work together with their SENCOs or Learning Support Coordinators, RTLB and Ministry facilitators to identify needs across their community and decide how best to use resources.

Collaboration is key

Iain Taylor, Manurewa Kāhui Ako leader and principal of Manurewa Intermediate School, says the LSDM is proving transformational, particularly the support provided by Learning Support Coordinators (LSCs). The LSCs were employed when the Kāhui Ako established its LSDM at the beginning of 2020, among the first tranche of LSCs to be allocated across the country.

Sally says teachers can’t expect to be experts in every single impairment – that’s where collaboration with others comes in. “If this child isn’t learning the way that I have been teaching, then I need to do something different. I need to change what I have planned. It isn’t necessarily the child


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Learning Support Delivery Model in action

“These LSCs are in our schools, they’re seeing teachers on a daily basis and I’m seeing our teachers developing a higher knowledge of learning support,” he says. “And whilst they’re there to help children with learning disabilities and additional learning needs, their expertise is permeating into our school so those kids who are below the line, so to speak, but above the line of the needs of the kids that the LSCs were set up to support, are also being addressed more effectively. “They’re helping with the identification and planning for the needs of kids in our schools; they’re starting to connect with a range of specialist supports and services so they’re able to make direct connections with the likes of other Ministry expertise and resource teachers, and all that will feed into part of their overall plan.” Iain says the weekly meetings of LSCs, SENCOs and Ministry staff have allowed communication to “open up”, and the formation of strong working relationships. “It was also a way of encouraging schools to have consistent protocol across our schools. They’re able to problem-solve and improve the data systems.”

Covid times

Given the disruptions of 2020, Iain says he was expecting the end of year data to be horrific. Instead he was happily

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surprised by good results, an achievement he says was greatly helped by the LSCs who joined the school shortly before lockdown. “When Covid hit, the LSCs were right there collaborating with the leadership team and classroom teachers to develop hard copy resources that kids would be able to do at home on their own.” It’s one of a number of successes that he attributes to the LSDM. “In their year with us, the LSCs have had a big impact embedding a cultural collaboration between the LSCs and the SENCOs in our schools as well as our Ministry Service Manager. This is the first time that we’ve been able to cajole everyone together and that collaboration is pretty significant.” School-whānau connections have been strengthened too. “Because LSCs are not rushed with a hundred thousand other jobs like SENCOs or DPs, they’ve been able to take time to establish those relationships with the parents and the parents are feeling more listened to. “We’ve also placed LSCs in a space away from the hierarchy, so to speak, so that parents can feel comfortable.”

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A timeline of learning support in New Zealand This timeline does not attempt to show a complete record of events but it identifies some important milestones in the history of learning support in New Zealand.



1914 Education Act made it obligatory for parents, teachers and police to report ‘mentally defective’ children.



United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Mentally Retarded Persons signalled a new era of international disability rights including in New Zealand.



Introduction of Early Intervention Services (EIS) to provide support for children with additional needs from birth, until they transition in to school.



Education Act 1989 affords equal rights to primary and secondary education. Children with special educational needs now have the right to enrol at their local school.



Special Education 2000, designed to fund resources and support programmes for children with learning, communication and behavioural needs. Special Education Grant, introduced to help schools to support students with moderate special education needs. Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS) introduced for students with the highest ongoing levels of need; providing funding for specialist support, additional teacher time and teacher aide support at school. Once a student is in ORS, their funding and support stays with them throughout their time at school. ORS provides services and support, including specialists such as speech-language therapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, and equipment to assist learning. Introduction of Resource Teachers: Learning & Behaviour (RTLB) to support teachers and learners in Years 1 to 10. Students may be referred individually, or as part of a group. School High Health Needs Fund introduced to help schools provide support for children with high health needs such as epilepsy or asthma. Regional Health Schools established in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch for students with significant health needs who cannot attend their local school because they are unwell, physically or mentally.

» »

» » »




Specialist Education Services (SES) that provided specialist support such as psychologists, speech language therapists and early intervention services integrated into the Ministry.



Resource Teachers: Vision and staff employed in Visual and Sensory Resource Centres are combined with Homai National School for the Blind and Vision Impaired to form the Blind and Low Vision Education Network (BLENNZ).


» »

NZSL becomes third official language of New Zealand. The United Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities signed 2007. The Convention follows decades of work by the United Nations to change attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities.



Ka Hikitia – Managing for Success sets the direction for improving education outcomes for Māori learners – including those with special education needs/disabilities. Focuses on high quality, culturally responsive education that incorporates the identity, language and culture of Māori learners and engages their whānau, hapū and iwi.

Education Gazette


» » »

Education Review Office reports that half of schools surveyed can now be described as inclusive. Success for All – Every School, Every Child supports the goal of all schools demonstrating inclusive practices. ORS service expanded.



Youth Mental Health Package announced to help schools take responsibility for student well-being. Includes Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) and related initiatives like PB4L School-Wide for many secondary schools and Incredible Years programmes for families and teachers. More nurses in low decile schools, alternative education and teen parent units; trained youth workers in low decile schools. Enabling Good Lives principles developed, leading to new models of disability support funding and the later prototype, Mana Whaikaha.

» »


» » »


» »



» » 2020

» » »

In progress

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Education Review Office reports improvements from 2010. More than three quarters of the schools in the sample were found to be mostly inclusive compared with half in the 2010 evaluation. Update of Special Education – change from “special education” to learning support. Establishment of Intensive Wrap-Around Service (IWS). Select Committee Inquiry into identification and support for children and young people with dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism spectrum disorders in primary and secondary schools. Roll out of Learning Support Delivery Model across New Zealand. Learning Support Action Plan (LSAP) 2019-2025 to support all children and young people with disabilities or learning support needs, introduction of Learning Support Coordinators (LSCs), strengthening of early intervention, provision of flexible supports for neurodiverse children and young people, increased access to supports for gifted children and young people, and improved education for those at risk of disengaging. Review of Tomorrow’s Schools. Education and Training Act 2020 requires all schools to be inclusive. Refresh of Ka Hikitia. Kelston and Van Asch Deaf Education Centres combined to become Ko Taku Reo - one national organisation providing specialist services to learners who are deaf or hard of hearing. National Education and Learning Priorities (NELP) to replace school charters. Guided by five principles: » Learners at the centre – Learners with their whānau are at the centre of education. » Barrier-free access – Greater education opportunities and outcomes are within reach for every learner. » Quality teaching and leadership – Quality teaching and leadership make the difference for learners and their whānau. » Future of learning and work – Learning that is relevant to the lives of New Zealanders today and throughout their lives. » World-class inclusive public education – New Zealand education is trusted and sustainable. Redesign of the Ministry of Education to provide better support to schools and early learning services.

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Hana Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke is the fourth generation of her whānau to attend Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga.


Education Gazette


Overcoming the past and looking to the future – the story of a wharekura Established as a Native School in 1896, Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga in Huntly has emerged from a challenging past as a proud and flourishing kura. Education Gazette talks to principal John Heremia and student Hana Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke about its confronting and challenging past, its struggles, successes and aspirations.


ana Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke is in her final term at Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga when Education Gazette catches up with her. It’s not the first time we’ve met Hana – we profiled Maahina, a book she wrote and published about maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar and its connection with people’s wellbeing in Issue 11, 2020. “The book has sold out twice now. I honestly thought it would just be my friends who bought it,” laughs the 18-year-old. Now Hana is pondering how she will continue to manage her maramataka publishing business while studying for a degree in business management and Māori and indigenous studies at the University of Waikato. It’s quite a different sort of challenge to those her great-grandmother faced as a student at the same school. Hana is the fourth generation of her whānau to attend Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga. “My great-grandmother was beaten for speaking Māori. This was an English-medium school back then. And then my grandfather, Taitumu Maipi, was still not allowed to speak the reo. He fought for our school to be a full immersion school. He was part of an activist group for revitalisation of the reo. My father was one of the first out of our whānau to speak Māori. And then there’s me today – I’m able to be enriched in my culture through all different aspects.” Hana is confident that when she has her own children, they will build on this progress. “I want my children to be able to understand and learn our culture using all their senses, hear the reo, speak the reo, be it, feel it from our tinana, wairua,

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hinengaro – holistically. If they know it confidently enough then they’ll be able to adapt to other cultures, religions, perspectives without being hesitant in knowing who they are, because they have a strong sense of their identity. “If they have that strong foundation they will be fine. It’s about being exposed to all different cultures – not just being closed off to our own. I know my culture confidently enough to express and learn from other cultures.” Hana’s strong sense of identity has been shaped by her people. “All the kaumātua around here have instilled in us to revitalise the reo and indigenous knowledge that we try and practice every day in school. It’s about ‘Maaku anoo e hanga tooku nei whare’ – ‘I will build and fashion my own house’ – that covers the physical, spiritual and mental sides; and also the whānau and the whenua.” The school’s cultural group, Āwhina i te Kaupapa, has also had a profound impact on Hana. “We travelled over to Hawai’i and Australia and China – we visited those indigenous groups and from there we were able to converse in our indigenous languages and we could see the similarities and each other’s customs. There was so much respect and a shared vision for trying to revitalise our cultures. And all from a rangatahi perspective.”

A part of that history

Tumuaki John Heremia – known by many as Barna – should take credit for transforming Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga into the place it is today, where ākonga

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like Hana are flourishing. He has been involved with the kura for over 40 years, but he’s far too humble. The school was established in 1896 as a Native School. Under the Native Schools Act 1867, Māori were required to donate the land for the schools before communities would receive support from the Government to set up a school. “The people from the Rakaumanga area here wanted to build a school because every winter it was very dangerous for their kids to cross the river by punt – there was no bridge back then,” says John. So a Native School was established on a site near where the Huntly Power Station sits today. “From a Māori perspective the Native Schools were set up under assimilation policies, more to civilise Māori and get them included as part of society sooner than later. That was part of the primary purpose – also to support Māori boys to be good farmers and girls to be domestic servants. “Māori kids were beaten like hell if they got caught speaking Māori on school grounds. It was to discourage them speaking Māori and use English as their main language. “Probably the people at that time thought that was a good thing to do. Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga was part of that history.” Fast-forward to 1969, and the school became a state primary school – one of the last Native Schools to be redesignated into the state system following the abolition of Native Schools. Shortly after, the Huntly Power Station was commissioned as part of Prime Minister Muldoon’s Think Big Projects. “When they decided to build the power station, our school was in the road. The easiest thing to do of course was just smash it down,” explains John.


Education Gazette

Using the levers of the Public Works Act, the Government made the decision to demolish the school and relocate students to the other schools in the community. But this proved to be a catalyst for resistance. Led by ex-students Māori Queen Te Atairangikaahu and her brother Sir Robert Mahuta (before he was knighted), people began protesting against any further degradation of the right for Māori to have access to a quality education. “They understood they couldn’t protest to prohibit advancement of the building of the power station, but they were determined that the school should not be lost. They had to go right back to ‘this land was gifted by the Māori people; you can’t just do this.’” As a result, the school was relocated to its current site in 1974. But the protests achieved more than just saving the school. “It actually galvanised the people to look upon the purpose of schools and the possible removal of access for their children to education and learning. And it also helped them to think: what is learning?”

John’s story

It was around this point that John’s association with the school began. Upon graduating from Waikato University, he moved to the Huntly area, where he has remained for over 40 years. He was approached in 1978 to become an Itinerant Teacher of Māori for schools in the area. These teachers operated in a similar way to Bible in Schools teachers,

“In the early years it was a feeling of determined passion, then a feeling of euphoria when you started hearing little ones say ‘tēnā koe’. Because in this community in the ’70s and ’80s, no one under the age of 13 was speaking Māori.” John Heremia visiting schools to teach te reo Māori. “In those days they gave you a guitar and a tape recorder and told you, away you go. I went around teaching kids a, e, i, o, u; tēnā koe, e tū. Rakaumanga was designated as my base school.” Despite widespread suppression of te reo Māori, John had never let his reo slide. He is of Tūhoe descent, growing up in one of the small pockets of Aotearoa that held onto the language. Like the Far North, Whanganui River and the East Coast – Tūhoe land had been identified as unproductive land that couldn’t be redeveloped into land block sales for returning soldiers after the war. “So our isolation firmly helped us retain a lot of those sorts of things.” This was fortunate as his schooling did little to affirm his identity as Māori. “In my early years, I was left trying to grapple with why I should be proud to be part of the Commonwealth. Our reading material reflected more about what was happening in England. I knew more about Robin Hood than I did about Te Rauparaha. I knew more about King Arthur

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Top left: Kapa haka practice in session. Bottom left: Students travel from all over Aotearoa to attend Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga. Above: Hana Rawhiti Maipi-Clarke says her strong sense of identity has been shaped by her people.

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than I knew about King Korokī.” John witnessed the full effect of the Government’s policies when he first moved to the Huntly area. He was appalled to discover an absence of te reo Māori in the Huntly area. “When I first started interacting with this community, I was actually quite shocked because I couldn’t hear te reo Māori being spoken anywhere other than ceremonial occasions on the marae.”

Revitalising te reo Māori

John says the strength and conviction to revive te reo Māori came from older people and academics, as well as from a lot of people who did not even speak Māori themselves. One of those people was Selby Neill, the principal at Rakaumanga, where John was the only Māori teacher. “Selby was Dutch and an awesome man. He said, ‘You should revive te reo Māori, you should ensure that Māori culture is being reflected in how we look after our kids’. “A large number of children who were coming to Rakaumanga were Pākehā and some of them came from Dutch families, and they were talking about the importance of language. They were the ones who were encouraging us to embrace our own language.” Following its relocation to its new site, Rakaumanga became a bilingual school in the mid-late 1970s. And then

Tumuaki John Heremia has seen a lot of changes during the 40 years he has spent at Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga.


Education Gazette

following in the footsteps of Hoani Waititi, the first kura established by Tom and Kaa Williams with a focus on revitalising te reo Māori, Rakaumanga became a kura in 1986. John says back then there was initially some resistance to a Māori immersion programme. “Even when bilingual education was allowed, inspectors from the Department of Education would come round from schools to measure that there was an equivalent amount of time that was also being taught in English.” But the kura grew. It achieved official redesignation as a Total Immersion Māori co-educational composite (Years 1–15) Tribal Wharekura on 1 January 1995. The first cohort of Year 13 students educated within a Kaupapa Māori programme graduated in 1997.

Fears of decline

John says they experienced the full range of emotions, as the revitalisation of te reo Māori gained momentum. “In the early years it was a feeling of determined passion, then a feeling of euphoria when you started hearing little ones say ‘tēnā koe’. Because in this community in the ’70s and ’80s, no one under the age of 13 was speaking Māori. “So, Nan was saying ‘You’re awesome’, Dad was saying, ‘You’re awesome’. Then we went through this period of maintenance and sustainability early-2000s and that’s when the work actually began.” By the mid-2000s, John believes they entered a period of gradual decline. “Once you’ve heard one speak Māori, then 10, then 100, 1000, Scotty Morrison, no more pakipaki (applause). And you still need the pakipaki. See that’s the thing with being Pākehā – you don’t recognise the plethora of occasions, the events, mediums that celebrate you being Pākehā. “For Māori, that was occurring through kōhanga, kura, wharekura and started to trickle out into society. But it still pales in significance to the rich endorsement Pākehā receive for te reo Pākehā, Pākehā values, ways and social etiquettes.” John is concerned by a burgeoning trend he’s noticing: parents who have been nurtured in te reo and have emerged from their Māori medium education to be successful in both Māori and non-Māori worlds, but are opting to send their children to English medium schools after a few years of kōhanga reo or primary school. “Although it’s a mere trickle, a concern for me is that this trickle can turn into a deluge easily.” Despite John’s fears, Te Wharekura o Rakaumanga is flourishing. They have difficulty managing the number of enrolments and enquiries and have seen a big increase in the number of Pākehā children enrolling. Students have even relocated from other parts of the country to attend the wharekura, boarding in Huntly, Ngāruawāhia or Hamilton. “We are still riding the wave of success, and as any surfer would like to think, the wave is going to continue. The people themselves have to want it. People who came through kaupapa Māori education, when they start sending their children to non-kaupapa Māori schools, that’s the start of it going under.

“I think it’s still important that there is still a lot of passion and commitment by Māori in general to keep the wave going. It’s your active participants, the students and the parents of the students and their parents – they have to believe it and own it for it to work for it to carry on. “When we became a kura in 1986, how did we measure success? We don’t measure it with the children we’re working with in ’86, we measure it with their children – intergenerational change and sustainability.”

Looking to the future

Near the entrance of the kura stands an impressive sculpture. It represents the journey the kura has taken from a Native School in 1896, to becoming a state primary school in 1969, to its relocation in 1974, to becoming a bilingual school in the late 1970s, to a kura kaupapa in 1986, to a full wharekura in 1995, to what it is today.

“Once you’ve heard one speak Māori, then 10, then 100, 1000, Scotty Morrison, no more pakipaki. And you still need the pakipaki.” John Heremia Wood is not meant to pierce steel, yet it does here, showing that with passion and commitment, anything is possible. The story is welded onto the steel along with all the names of local marae, as a reminder that the school belongs to its people. “We are still excited about the growth of kaupapa Maori education,” says John. He says 20 to 25 years ago the focus was on growing te kōhanga reo. Now there is a strong focus on helping rangatahi transition into higher education or employment and have meaningful and prosperous lives. “Part of that role is supporting community and wider society to understand ‘where are these kids coming from?’ Contrary to belief, not everyone knows how to play a guitar and knows all the words to Ten Guitars, but they do offer other world views. We also want employers and businesses to understand that having these Māori people as part of your staff adds value to your company. That’s a work in progress. We also have to work on it ourselves and with our people.” John says earlier graduates from the kura have done an extraordinary job at setting the benchmark and they’re scattered throughout society. And now, as she embarks on her tertiary studies, Hana will join the Rakaumanga alumni, paving the way for the next generation to continue to strengthen te reo and tikanga Māori, and emerge, as Hana has done, proud, confident and secure in the knowledge of who they are and where they are going.

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Over a century in education sector for Sisters Both now in their eighties, Sister Valerie Lawson QSO (formerly Sister Mary Celine) and Sister Pauline Leonard CNZM each have over 50 years’ experience teaching and leading in the education sector, an apt story for Education Gazette’s centenary.

L-R: Sister Mary St Paulina, Sister Mary St Clarissa (Bernadette Lawson), Brother Alfred, Sister Mary Celine (Valerie Lawson).

Sister Valerie Lawson QSO Pathway into teaching

Valerie decided she wanted to become a teacher during her primary school years in Christchurch. Inspired and encouraged by her teachers to become a Mission Sister as well as a teacher, she attended a Mission Sisters’ small, residential preparatory school in Cashmere, Christchurch, for students considering becoming a sister. “I don’t regret the decision to attend it, but in hindsight it had some drawbacks,” reflects Valerie. “We were a very small and isolated group and very protected, so we didn’t have the opportunity to mix with many other young people of our own age. However, the benefits we received certainly outweighed any negatives.” In 1951, at the age of 19, Valerie entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of the Mission in Christchurch.


Education Gazette

For about two and a half years, Valerie received what she describes as spiritual training, as opposed to teacher training. Then in August 1953, she was ‘professed’ as Sister Mary Celine and took the formal vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. After profession, it was straight into the classroom at St Joseph’s Primary School in Christchurch, where Valerie taught “30 wonderful, clever children in Primer 3 and 4”. Just two years later she was appointed to Sacred Heart College in Christchurch. “Having only a short experience of primary school teaching and my highest qualification being University Entrance, I was suddenly a terrified secondary teacher. We didn’t know what we didn’t know! A lot of preparation went on the night before the next day’s classes, but I was fortunate to have mentors during this time from whom I learnt a lot – and fast!”

‘A jack of all trades’

While teaching full time, Valerie studied after school and attended lectures at the University of Canterbury, eventually graduating with a BA in English. After nine years at Sacred Heart in Christchurch, Valerie moved to the Mission Sisters’ Sacred Heart College in Lower Hutt for three years. By now a seasoned teacher, she taught a wide variety of subjects to different class levels as the expectation was for every teacher to be a ‘jack of all trades’. Sister Valerie’s leadership journey began in 1967, as principal of Redwood College in Nelson. The school – a five-storey building – served as both a school and convent, where the sisters lived. “At a class reunion in 2018 of students now in their 60s, the women spoke very highly of their experiences at the school, believing they could do anything. They were rewarding years and I still have connections with many of them.”

State integration

In 1980, Valerie became principal of Lower Hutt’s Sacred Heart College, where she led the school until her retirement in 2000. In her first year there, the college became the first Catholic secondary school to be integrated into the state system. “It was a very difficult year but if Catholic schools hadn’t integrated, they would have folded. That’s how dire it had become because there were fewer Sisters teaching and because we received very little, we couldn’t afford to pay other staff.” There was some state aid before integration, but integration was a real lifeline, albeit requiring a considerable restructure. Positions of responsibility had been few and far between. Valerie explains, “We had principals and deputy principals but as far as possible they were Sisters and didn’t cost more!” Previously, Catholic schools were reliant on fees and often they weren’t paid. “Eleven of the Lawson girls went to Sacred Heart College in Christchurch, but fees weren’t paid for any of us. Many families were in that position – if you couldn’t pay fees, you didn’t.” Fees are still charged for capital works (new buildings), as the Government does not supply these, however the inability to pay them does not exclude students.

Student success

Valerie says they put a lot of emphasis on the achievement of Māori and Polynesian students at Sacred Heart College. “We were also lucky to have excellent full-time te reo Māori teachers and Māori culture was a feature of our school – and that was in the 1980s! “As a teacher, you have to like teenagers and believe they can be better than they realise; you must have high expectations and believe in youth, and that belief will be catching.” For many years, Sacred Heart College has had the greatest number of students taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards Scheme. Most years, Valerie went to Government House supporting students receiving their Gold Awards and in 1995, when she herself received the Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for Public Service to Education, she recalls the Governor General Dame Cath Tizard saying, “It’s good to be giving you one too!”

A rewarding vocation

A framed print sits in Valerie’s lounge with the adage “to teach is to touch a life forever”. For Valerie, it sums up teaching. “Teaching is a rewarding vocation and you need good people in it, but it takes a lot of commitment. As unmarried sisters, we could give 100 per cent of our time, which was easier than for others who had to raise families and still did a wonderful job. “Very satisfying to me was to see disadvantaged kids become confident people, equipped to go out and live and not have to continue with that disadvantage.” The thing that pleases Valerie the most is past students telling her they left Redwood and Sacred Heart Colleges thinking they could do anything. “We lived in a ‘girls can do anything’ age! I’ve never lost the inspiration I received from Mother Dominica, my best secondary school teacher.”

In the blood

Three of Valerie’s 11 sisters also joined the RNDM (Religieuses de Notre Dame Missions/Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions) and had careers in education: Sister Lorraine Lawson, Literacy Learning Specialist/Teacher at St Patrick’s in Auckland; the late Sister Maureen Lawson, principal of St Joseph’s School in Nelson until her retirement in 2000 – the last Mission Sister to teach there; and the late Sister Bernadette Lawson, who taught at Sacred Heart Primary School in Petone before succumbing to leukaemia in 1959 aged 28.

“Very satisfying to me was to see disadvantaged kids become confident people, equipped to go out and live and not have to continue with that disadvantage.” Sister Valerie Lawson QSO

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Valerie’s brother Kevin also became a teacher and taught in Australia. And many of the next generation are also pursuing careers in education.

Sister Pauline Leonard CNZM Called to teaching

One of five girls in a Catholic family, Sister Pauline was raised in Christchurch, participating in many activities associated with the church. Teaching was looked upon as a good career option, and at secondary school Pauline had various Sisters who were role models and influential in her decision to join the congregation of Sisters in Ferry Road in Christchurch. She took her formal vows in 1961 and her first assignment was for three years, teaching Primer 3 and 4 in Nelson. “It was challenging teaching children who were at very different levels, especially with 30-plus children in the class,” she recollects. “One year I had this young boy who had learning difficulties. He loved music but he didn’t speak, and he occasionally did anti-social things like throwing other children’s shoes over the fence. I’d never encountered a situation like this and seeking advice was tricky because we didn’t have a lot of outside contacts. Thankfully, I was able to talk to a lady on the staff about ways to cope. “Throughout my career, there weren’t many children with learning difficulties. In fact, when both Valerie and I were teaching, far fewer children presented with these. “Generally, young people came to school ready to learn. There were still difficult home lives and families with addiction issues, but we expected certain behaviours and we had high expectations of every child.”

High expectations

Top: Sisters Pauline Leonard, Constance Hurley and Bernadette O’Neill, the last three Sisters to lead Sacred Heart College in Hamilton. Middle: Young Sisters at Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt. Bottom: The Sisters enjoy some downtime overseas during Sister Pauline’s Woolf Fisher Scholarship award in 1996.


Education Gazette

High expectations of learning were certainly role modelled by Sister Pauline. While teaching in Nelson, Sister Pauline did her Level 1, 2 and 3 Teachers Certificate papers, completing five in the first year and subsequently the others. “After completing the papers, you could apply for an inspection, where you were observed teaching. It was then decided if you got your Teachers C or not.” Pauline achieved this at Sacred Heart Addington Convent and Primary School in Christchurch. She also studied at university- her first paper was geography. “Geography wasn’t so much a choice, rather a subject that was available outside of school hours,” she says. In 1964, Pauline went to St Joseph’s in Christchurch where she co-taught with a Sister in the Novitiate, Annemarie Shine, who was a trained teacher. “She used to replace me in the classroom while I did Chemistry at university because Chemistry was only available during school hours. That arrangement held for the next three years and then I had a full year where I studied Zoology with Honours.”

Leadership years

After teaching at St Joseph’s, Sister Pauline spent many years at Sacred Heart College in Christchurch, teaching the sciences. She then taught at Sacred Heart College in Lower Hutt, where she became deputy principal to Sister Valerie in 1980. After nine years in that position, Pauline was appointed principal of Sacred Heart College in Hamilton. “When I got there, all I knew about how to be a principal was what I had learned from Valerie.” Sister Pauline has fond memories of her 14 years leading Sacred Heart College, during which she oversaw major curriculum developments, an increased roll and the growth of a positive, energetic learning environment. As she told seventh formers at one of the leaving functions: ‘You came to Sacred Heart with your youthfulness, inexperience, and childhood dreams – and you have grown through these five years and now leave our college as friends and confident young women’. Sister Pauline remembers sitting for an oil canvas painting by Joan McKenzie to be hung in the Creative Arts Centre. The Centre is named after Sister Pauline, the last RNDM principal at the school.

Woolf Fisher Scholarship

In 1996, Pauline was awarded a Woolf Fisher Scholarship. Valerie took a term off to accompany her, and the Sisters visited schools in Boston, San Francisco and New York, as well as attending a Catholic Education Conference, the size of which blew them away. “We were particularly interested in the implementation of the technology curriculum in English schools, as we had an area that we were going to modify and develop for our own technology curriculum. “On the way home, we went to South Africa and visited a school where they were making clothing by hand. We came home and fundraised and sent the school several sewing machines. “Through education, we’ve have had a range of wonderful experiences,” reflects Sister Pauline.


Upon retiring, both Sisters were involved from 2004 to 2010 in the leadership of the RNDM Congregation in New Zealand, which includes the Samoan congregation. Keen sportswomen, the sisters are now avid watchers and armchair referees of rugby, cricket and netball in particular. They remain involved in many family and congregation activities. Both Sisters have made an immense contribution to education and, though retired for many years, their passion remains for a bright future for young people through building their confidence, contributing to their educational achievement and ensuring they leave school with a good heart.

Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions 1861 – 1893 Euphrasie Barbier founded the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions Religieuses de Notre Dame des Missions in Lyon, France. 1864 Euphrasie Barbier sent her first missionaries to New Zealand.

SISTER VALERIE 1951 Sister Mary Celine enters the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions at age 19. 1953 Professed, taking formal vows in poverty, chastity and obedience. 1955 – 1963 Teacher at SHC Christchurch. 1964 – 1966 Teacher of Form 5 classes at SHC Lower Hutt. 1967 Principal at Redwood College, Nelson. 1968 Rome renewal course. 1969 – 1972 Teacher at SHC Christchurch. 1973 – 1979 Principal at Redwood College, Nelson. 1980 – 2000 Principal SHC Lower Hutt. 1995 Sister Valerie Madeline Lawson honoured as a Companion of the Queens Service Order for Public Service.

SISTER PAULINE 1959 Sister Pauline Leonard enters the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions at age 19. 1961 Professed, taking formal vows in poverty, chastity and obedience. 1961 – 1963 Teacher in Nelson. 1964 – 1966 Teacher at St Joseph’s Primary School in Christchurch. 1967 – 1979 Teacher at SHC Lower Hutt. 1980 – 1989 Deputy Principal at SHC Lower Hutt. 1990 – 2004 Principal SHC Hamilton. 1996 Awarded a Woolf Fisher Scholarship. 2003 Sister Pauline Anne Leonard honoured as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to education.

Sister Valerie’s niece Tania Black works for the Ministry of Education and has shared this story with Gazette readers.

26 July 2021

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Voices of Ngāti Hauā Drawing on the perspectives of three iwi members, this is the story of how one iwi is building a strong presence within its community for the benefit of its people. It’s a story of mahi, collaboration and a vision for the future.


Education Gazette

Te Ao Marama vividly remembers her first day of school nearly seven decades ago.

Te Ao Marama Maaka: Nurturing tikanga

Te Ao Marama Maaka is one of the Ngāti Hauā kuia. She has dedicated decades to building and nurturing partnerships between iwi and the education community.


lthough it was nearly 70 years ago, Te Ao Marama vividly recalls the day she started school as a five-yearold at Morrinsville Primary School. Upon introducing her, the principal said to her father, “We can’t call her that; you’ve got to find another name for her.” “The first name to cross my father’s mind was Maureen – after Maureen O’Hara, the actress. So that was my name right up until I realised that wasn’t my name, and that wasn’t until after I’d had children,” says Te Ao Marama. Her father was adamant she should “learn the Pākehā way”. Not only were there no opportunities to learn te reo Māori back then, but the general feeling among many Māori parents was that it would not help them forge a successful career.

Language advocate

Those memories stayed with her and Te Ao Marama made it her goal to be involved with her children’s education and to be an advocate for their language, culture and identity. So when her eldest daughter turned five and started at Morrinsville Primary School, Te Ao Marama joined the PTA. “Those days were very mokemoke, very lonely for Māori parents, because the school didn’t know Māori parents wanted to be involved.” When her daughter got to Morrinsville College, Te Ao Marama was asked to join the Board of Governors to continue the mahi of Brian Thompson and Wayne Hotene, two governors who had served before her, advocating for Māori. Serving on the Board of Governors was not a nice experience, says Te Ao Marama. “I didn’t have that support. The chairperson knew what he was doing in terms of education but wasn’t really prepared to listen. “I wanted to be sure my children, my mokopuna, my whānau, were going to be safe and looked after and listened to. It took some time.” In 1989, Tomorrow’s Schools came into force and Te Ao Marama joined the Board of Trustees at Morrinsville College. She represented Ngāti Hauā on the board there for 14 years, while also serving on the board at Morrinsville Primary. During that time, she was appointed to the Council of Schools’ Trustees Association representing Waikato Tainui, a position she held for 12 years. “It was a great experience because we were able to share and meet different people across the education sector with similar aspirations. I felt really empowered.”

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“I wanted to be sure my children, my mokopuna, my whānau, were going to be safe and looked after and listened to. It took some time.” Te Ao Marama Maaka

Tukutuku Kōrero


Whānau embrace kapa haka practice at Te Wharekura o Te Rau Aroha.

Giving parents a voice

But her real passion lay at the local level and the mahi they were doing at Morrinsville schools. “It was 1998 when we were able to build Te Ao Whanui and establish our first whānau support at Morrinsville College. Whānau support gave parents a voice at the school. A lot of parents are whakamā, they don’t involve themselves in school curriculum or school events because it’s unknown to them – unless you have a sports event.” This support extended beyond Ngāti Hauā to other iwi, to ensure that all whānau felt included. “Te Ao Whanui was the start of a lot of initiatives. The Ministry and school supported it. That was the first physical thing that we could say, yes, change is going to happen at our college.”

Kura kaupapa movement

At the same time, the kura kaupapa movement was really coming into its own, says Te Ao Marama. “It was a great initiative. They came to us and said they wanted their own voice, their own body. However, we realised that the majority of Māori children were still in mainstream education. Many Māori parents didn’t have the reo, so they kept their children back in mainstream.” As cultural advisor for the Morrinsville Kāhui Ako, Te Ao Marama says most schools in the community have embraced their local Ngāti Hauā tikanga. “The parents were whakamā to go to school, so we thought, we’ll bring the school to the marae. What they wanted for their children just came alive.”


Education Gazette

Some initiatives have been going for a long time – for example, the college has held pōwhiri for new students for nearly 30 years. But it’s the last five years in which Te Ao Marama has seen a real willingness for change. “One of the things we do at the college is we celebrate our Māori students. Acknowledging their achievements, whether it is making it to Level 1, passing Level 2, getting to Level 3. The parents all turn up, and they’re excited. We encourage them to sing and perform.”

Willingness for change

And at the other end of the sector, there’s a willingness for change as well. “We blessed a new early childhood education centre just a few weeks ago – and they said, ‘We want your history, we want to learn your reo, your tikanga’.” For the last three or four years, they’ve taken their Kāhui Ako onto significant sites of Ngāti Hauā. “I think we need to document our history so we can go into the schools and tell our history.” Ngāti Hauā hosts an annual cultural festival involving the schools and early learning centres from the community. “Our Pākehā community look forward to it – they love seeing their littlies up there, performing.” Te Ao Marama says she is going to retire soon. She jokes that she and the principal of Morrinsville College, John Inger, have made a pact to retire at the same time. Both can retire safe in the knowledge that the strong relationship between schools and iwi will endure, and that the mahi will continue.

Lisa Gardiner: Pursuing success

Lisa Gardiner is General Manager at Ngāti Hauā Iwi Trust. She is instrumental in getting initiatives off the ground with a vision for rangatahi to succeed.


isa says it’s because of all the groundwork put in by people like Te Ao Marama that she has been able to move the established relationships beyond providing cultural advisory support to forging clear pathways for their rangatahi. “It’s about working in partnership with the schools and saying, ‘What are our aspirations for our kids in your schools and what do we expect from you?’ And actually telling them what our strategic plans are and our goals and how we can work together to achieve these,” says Lisa. Currently only about 30 percent of their young people are achieving NCEA Level 2, says Lisa, a statistic that clearly appalls her. They have set quite specific targets around improving that, and are working with principals, boards of trustees and tauira to achieve these. The trust has turned one of its settlement assets, Mangateparu School, into a learning centre, run in

partnership with Wintec. A van picks rangatahi up from all over the community, providing the opportunity to participate in courses with a clear path to employment. The first course they offered was on landscape construction; the second on general horticulture. They help students find employment upon their completion of the course. Lisa gives the example of one of their students. “Tema left school at 16 and hadn’t done any sort of employment or training for five years. He completed our general horticulture course and he’s now working in our native nursery. It was something he felt comfortable doing. You could say it’s the easy route but it worked for him. He got picked up every morning. He was with whānau.”

Entrepreneurial approach

The native nursery is a Ngāti Hauā enterprise, as is the blueberry orchard. The orchard is flourishing. There are currently over 24 100-metre tunnels over two hectares and the construction team is working on getting another 40 more 120-metre tunnels up and running over another three hectares.

“When we see our involvement and our partnerships having an impact – that’s when we know we’ll have been successful.” Lisa Gardiner

Working on strategic goals of iwi in partnership with schools is important, says Lisa Gardiner.

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The blueberry orchard, run and owned by Ngāti Hauā, provides opportunities for work and upskilling for their people.

Around 12,000 seedlings are growing in the nursery ready to transfer to the tunnels. The orchard grows the Eureka species of blueberries and exports 80 percent of their yield. “We’re continuing the entrepreneurial approach of forebears like Wiremu Tamihana, who exported flax,” says harvest manager, Menzies. He says they aim to employ young people from within the iwi, giving them employment and an opportunity to grow their skill bases and gain certification. Ngāti Hauā is now offering their first short course, Workskills for Jobs, which is very focused on getting rangatahi job-ready. The course is just nine days of intense training in which they can gain many of the skills and tickets needed to work in a range of industries, including their Health & Safety ticket, their forklift licence and others. “We spoke with industry partners like Fonterra, Open Country, Silver Fern Farms and said to them, ‘If you’re looking for someone to employ, what sort of tickets would you want them to have?’ And they said ‘xyz’. So we said, we’re going to invest in 12 of our young people. We’re going to put them through the course and they’ll emerge job-ready.”

Progress towards success

Although there are clear signs that progress is being made, Lisa is not prepared to rest until she sees achievement against their strategic goals. She has a very clear idea of what success looks like. “When we start to see the fruits of the hard work put in by people like Te Ao Marama, when we see our people achieving. I mean just 30 percent of our people are getting NCEA Level 2 – that’s just not good enough. So, when we see our involvement and our partnerships having an impact – that’s when we know we’ll have been successful.”

Mokoro Gillet: Preserving te reo Māori

Mokoro Gillett is tumuaki at Te Wharekura o Te Rau Aroha and chair of Ngāti Hauā Iwi Trust. He is eager to see tamariki pursue education pathways with their reo and culture at the heart.


isa gifts Mokoro some blueberries from the orchard. They are enormous, ripe and ready for eating, but he’s too busy to indulge at that moment. The kura is a hive of activity, especially with the kapa haka group preparing for a competition in a few days’ time. Their young voices soar, filling every corner of the hall.

High expectations

Mokoro’s expectations for these tamariki go beyond the kapa haka competition. “The way forward is education, no matter what. We need our tamariki to be educated because they are our future as well.” “In schools like this one, which is a kura kaupapa Māori, it’s really important that there’s a balance: the physical, spiritual and the knowledge. We take the whole child. We bring in our history and our culture and add it to


Education Gazette

the knowledge of our history and the modern day. “One of the key factors of kura kaupapa is the reo,” he adds. “You can’t take your reo away from your culture. You can’t divorce from it. “A lot of the schools from 1930s, 1940s actually missed that language proficiency that the older ones had. There was a gap, so when kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa first started, the main focus was on reaffirming the reo.”

Worrying trend

Te Wharekura o Te Rau Aroha was established around 1999 with just 14 students. Its roll grew to 27, then to 56, and now sits at around 140. “Our numbers have plateaued at the moment.” Mokoro says this echoes a worrying trend across the country in which fewer children from kōhanga reo are entering kura kaupapa Māori. “I’d like to see a lot more growth,” says Mokoro.

Key role of iwi

He believes the iwi has a key role to play in fuelling this growth, and also in helping connect rangatahi with pathways into further education and work. Ngāti Hauā plays a connecting role with Mangateparu and the kura. “Those days of being able to go from one job to another easily are gone. So we need to be more selfdeterminant, make our way in life because not all will be captured in that working space.” “Our main focus is on university, on higher education and to bring those skills back. The education pathway they’re establishing will see tauira continue on to Wānanga Reo. “We actually start them on the wānanga pathway here at kura. We’re just starting on this journey.”

“The way forward is education, no matter what. We need our tamariki to be educated because they are our future as well.” Mokoro Gillett

Mokoro Gillett has high expectations for his students.

3 May 2021

Tukutuku Kōrero


For tamariki at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Ara Rima, the Tainui Waka Primary School Kapa Haka Competition was an opportunity to persevere through Covid-19.


Education Gazette


Learning from a Māori worldview Education Gazette looks at the importance of kapa haka as a vehicle for many students to engage with te ao Māori.


n a normal year, there would be a series of national kapa haka competitions, allowing tamariki from primary and secondary schools to take to the stage all over the country. But 2020 was not a normal year. When Covid-19 hit New Zealand in March 2020, schools and kura closed and face-to-face learning ceased. For many Māori students and learners in kura Māori, this meant an even larger disruption to their education. “When our tamariki came back from Covid, we found it difficult, like a lot of other schools, because of the anxiety and the apprehension,” says Tony Walker, the principal at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Ara Rima in Hamilton and chair of the Tainui Waka Primary School Kapa Haka organising committee. “But what we found is that in our ancient songs and in our haka, there were sayings and things that really supported people inside. Their spirituality, their sense about themselves, their mental wellbeing, their physical wellbeing, it’s all in haka.” On 14 November 2020, the Tainui Waka School Kapa Haka Competition was held in Tokoroa, thanks to a dedicated organising committee, communities and schools that advocated for it to be held, and funding received through the Ministry of Education’s Urgent Response Fund. It drew a crowd – something which no one would have thought possible just months before – of whānau, kaumatua and ākonga in 15 groups from 12 schools around the region. The power of kapa haka and its importance to Māori education was clear to those in the audience. Brad Totorewa, a kapa haka tutor and composer himself, is a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) for the Ministry of Education and a parent to one of the student competitors. He sums it up: “This – kapa haka – this is where your curriculum lies.”

He taonga tuku iho | It is a treasure and an inheritance For many students, kapa haka is an access point to engaging with te ao Māori. To engage with Māori

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Performing Arts, students must engage with tikanga, reo, and Māori culture and identity. It’s rooted in, and elevates, Māori culture and language. “Our children are extraordinary,” says Brad. “They’re doing genealogy, mathematics, social studies, performance arts – all on stage. “One young man on stage said: ‘My mana did not come from yesterday. My mana stems from a long line of chiefs from past generations, all the way beyond my understanding, and I’m proud of that.’ The power of kapa haka is important to ensure that the tapestry of our culture is strong and unbreakable.” Tony agrees. “In schools, kapa haka is seen as an extracurricular activity, or it sits under a wider curriculum of arts. It’s a really under-appreciated area,” he says. “But in the process, they learn their language, they learn their identity, they learn protocols, they learn histories, and it really feeds into their sense of self.” “If we can mirror the passion, the understanding, the depth of connectivity, the tapestry that we call kapa haka and embed them into our classes – imagine if you apply that,” says Brad. “Not the solution of one teacher, one subject, one way of delivering. Imagine if you could box this up – kapa haka – and place it into schools.”

Te Ao Haka

This year, more than 30 secondary schools and kura across the country will be piloting Te Ao Haka, the new Māori Performing Arts subject at all NCEA levels. After the 2018 review of NCEA, recommendations were made to ensure that te reo Māori, tikanga Māori, and mātauranga Māori were better supported in the curriculum and in NCEA. Māori Performing Arts embodies several dispositions, giving ākonga the capability to grow proud, confident, disciplined, resilient, accountable, hardworking, committed, humble leaders who are able to work collaboratively. The skills of manaaki, tiaki, aroha, whakapono, aumangea, time-management and commitment provide lifelong learning for ākonga.

Tukutuku Kōrero


Tamariki at Te Wharekura o Te Rau Aroha rehearse hard for the Tainui Waka Primary School Kapa Haka Competition.


Education Gazette

But kapa haka advocates are quick to draw a distinction between kapa haka being seen as just a method of performing arts. Kapa haka is also a means through which a Māori worldview can be applied to education.

Expanding learning through a Māori lens

In recent years, there has been a shift, albeit a slow one, in expanding curriculum to incorporate learning from a Māori worldview. “We want to contextualise our curriculum,” says Tony, speaking from his experience as a former teacher and current principal. “Our curriculum doesn’t belong in silos.” What sets learning through a Māori worldview apart, Walker says, is the kaupapa. “The kaupapa and the language go together. The kaupapa looks after the holistic child, every single part of the child, every single part of their family. That’s what it provides. I’m not saying that other schools don’t, but they don’t do it like this.” Kapa haka is one visible example. “The way we deliver our curriculum is important,” says Brad. “These kids spend hours and hours practising and practising and reciting. They sleep together, they eat together, they live together for two to three days per week. Some kids go to school and it’s ‘I’m going to learn maths for 45 minutes. Here’s your textbook’.” “But what if we turned that and looked at how we deliver. The methodology of teaching our kids is important. Kapa haka is underrated in terms of its ability to transform the lives of our people.” Tony’s preference is that learning mirrors kapa haka – it becomes a part of who we are and what we do. Eventually, it will take a standard place alongside literacy and numeracy, and eventually, even change the way these subjects are taught. To Tony, incorporating a Māori lens is important to teaching students in a way they can more deeply understand. “When we engage in a traditional practice of eeling, when we measure the eels to gauge their health, that’s our maths,” says Walker. “Rather than sitting in a classroom with mathematical strategies – our kids just can’t hook it on to anything.” Despite decades of strategies designed to engage and integrate a Māori worldview into education, the reality is that before now, learning hasn’t been seen through a Māori lens.

“The methodology of teaching our kids is important. Kapa haka is underrated in terms of its ability to transform the lives of our people.” Brad Totorewa

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With racism and inequity having been embedded in New Zealand education since the 1800s, for generations it was unthinkable to have a Māori worldview present in mainstream education.

“I think this is a great day today. Covid-19 hasn’t stopped us from expressing ourselves as Māori through song and dance.”

‘Covid-19 will not diminish my culture’

The URF helping to fund the Tainui Waka Primary Kapa Haka competition is just one example of where mainstream systems can merge with a Māori lens and improve education outcomes for students. With kapa haka, children are being measured on an indigenous scale, where success depends on how much heart they give, not just the standard scale of assessment found in most schools. “The more they are themselves, the more they learn and the better they become,” says Tony. Kapa haka also enables educators to engage more deeply with children, their whānau and their communities. “If you take that moment in time where that grumpy little child, who may have home problems or be hungry, if we just understand them a bit more and understand their potential, we can grow extraordinary leaders in New Zealand,” says Brad. “In terms of who we are as a people, everything is everything, and we have to look at our education system as the same,” says Tony. “We need to see the child in their entirety and then provide an education system that provides for that.”

In recent decades, there has been a concerted effort to address the inequity present for Māori learners and in Māori medium education. Kura and schools in competition for resources saw opportunities and funding slip past in a system that was designed around non-Māori priorities and education. Covid-19 only further amplified this vast inequality, with Māori learners being disproportionately affected. To combat the effects of Covid-19, the Ministry launched the Urgent Response Fund (URF) to quickly allocate funding where it was needed the most. The Tainui Waka Primary School Kapa Haka organising committee saw their opportunity and applied for nearly $30,000 of funding from the URF to support the annual competition. The funding was approved. Three months later, the competition was held in Tokoroa, bringing together a community, students and educators at a time when it was deeply needed. “One of the groups stood today and said, ‘Covid-19 will not diminish my culture’,” says Brad. “So what does that mean in the educational context? You have seven-year-olds singing about this virus called Covid-19. They understand that it won’t diminish their mana.


Education Gazette

Everything is everything

Tamariki from Te Wharekura o Te Rau Aroha on stage at the Tainui Waka Primary School Kapa Haka Competition.

3 May 2021

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Mount Maunganui Intermediate’s Showquest performance was inspired by the Rena shipwreck and the school’s inquiry into ocean sustainability.


Education Gazette


Rena – how a shipwreck inspired learning The stranding of the MV Rena in 2011, widely acknowledged as New Zealand’s most significant maritime pollution emergency, has provided many teaching and learning opportunities in the years that followed.


iant luminous jellyfish, penguins in bow ties and other sea creatures fell to the floor as dancers dressed in oily black swarmed the stage as part of Mount Maunganui Intermediate’s Showquest performance in June 2021. While the students performing would have been just toddlers when the Rena shipwrecked, it is an event they have grown up hearing about – and their creative message around the impact of the disaster and the ongoing care for their local marine environment resounded deeply with the Bay of Plenty audience.

What happened to the Rena

On 5 October 2011, the cargo vessel Rena struck Otaiti | Astrolabe Reef, approximately 12 nautical miles off the Tauranga coast, and grounded. The ship was carrying 1368 containers of cargo and 1700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and 200 tonnes of diesel fuel. Maritime New Zealand declared a tier 3 response, and mobilised the National Response Team for oil spill response. Volunteers, the New Zealand Army and other trained responders spent days cleaning up oil from beaches, supported by local iwi and community. More than 1000 dead birds were found and 300 birds (mainly little blue penguins) were rescued and taken to the wildlife oil spill response facility.

Creating awareness

A decade on, the stranding of the Rena continues to provide teaching and learning opportunities – Mount Maunganui Intermediate’s Showquest entry is a good example. Principal Melissa Nelson says the Showquest team aligned their performance with a school-wide inquiry into

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‘Human Impact on our Oceans and Ocean Sustainability’ in term 1 this year. “The whole school learned about the ocean; how it provides for us and the issues that plague it. Teams came up with their own unique spin on the topic and the learning that occurred in our kura was amazing.” Teacher Bronwyn Marshall worked with the students on their Showquest performance. “When the team of students and teachers were looking to develop a theme for our Showquest entry this year we looked at our localised curriculum and the stories of our area as well as trying to link with our term 1 inquiry,” says Bronwyn. “The incident of the Rena and how it impacted our local marine area was of great interest to students. We had guest speakers and undertook much research in order to gain a greater understanding of how the crash into the Astrolabe reef occurred and what were the immediate, medium and long-term impacts of this local disaster on our wildlife, our coastline and our community. “We were able to determine that with time and energy nature can regenerate and we linked this with the force of nature through Tangaroa and his godly wife Te Anumatao. “We were so proud of our students and the energy, thought and commitment they demonstrated into telling this important piece of local history through drama, dance and music,” says Bronwyn.

Learning opportunities and resources

The Rena has inspired many opportunities for teaching and learning over the years. Soon after the disaster, School Journal articles appeared, with ‘The Port’ (2012) and ‘What a disaster!’ (2013) sharing children’s perspectives of the Rena grounding, encouraging other students to think about the impact of the event to the marine environment. In 2013, the Rena inspired the winning entry for a group of New Zealand students taking part in a competition run by the Young Enterprise Trust. The competition was part of the 2013 Global Enterprise Challenge to develop a proposal for a sustainable tourism business that uses science and technology to manage environmental issues.  The team developed a business plan for a company called Eco Dive, which would take dive trips on the site of the grounding of the Rena. The three-year anniversary of the grounding was marked for Bay of Plenty schools with the gift of posters and picture books, M is for Mauao by Tommy ‘Kapai’ Wilson and Motiti Blue and the Oil Spill: A Story from the Rena Disaster by Debbie McCauley, as well as an educational poster with easy-to-understand information about the ship’s grounding. Maritime New Zealand worked with the Ministry of Education to produce the resource ‘What now for the Rena?’ for a 2016 issue of the Ministry ‘s Connected series, which promotes the exploration and learning of ideas in science, mathematics, and technology for students in Years 4 to 8. Linking to the 2013 Connected article ‘After the Spill’, the resource focused on the long-term impacts of the grounding.


Education Gazette

“Teams came up with their own unique spin on the topic and the learning that occurred in our kura was amazing.” Melissa Nelson

The students showed the distress of the sea creatures as oil leaked from the shipwrecked Rena, threatening their marine environment.

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Year 8 student Ramari played Te anu-mātou, and expressed sadness for the damage to their environment, while Tangaroa expressed hope for the future.


Education Gazette

“The way this and the previous Rena article have been written, and the depth of ideas that are explored in both, provide great modelling on critical thinking for the students,” was one teacher’s feedback, as reported in The Bay of Plenty Times. Science Learning Hub | Pokapū Akoranga Pūtaiao showcased these articles and provided additional related content and a range of learning activities. It featured the article ‘Restoring mauri after the Rena disaster’, and the episode ‘The Rena Disaster’ that appeared as part of television series Project Mātauranga, both offering insights into how te ao Māori can be incorporated into the Rena disaster recovery operation.

See this article online for teaching and learning resources relating to the Rena disaster, including the Connected and School Journal resources mentioned in this article.

26 July 2021

Student kōrero

Mount Maunganui Intermediate student Ramari (pictured on facing page) played Te anu-mātou in the school’s Showquest performance. This is what she had to say: “The performance meant a lot to me because of how tragic the Rena disaster was. It’s important that people can learn about our local history and make changes. “Including Tangaroa and Te anu-mātou in our performance showed our culture, from the school, and how it means a lot to us. “The kapa haka moves showed the water going back into the river and showed how sad I was as Te anumātou. The words from the song I sang expressed the sadness I felt, while Tangaroa gave the hope.”

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Education Gazette


Ngata Memorial College: fulfilling a legacy Rural area school Ngata Memorial College was established in 1959, taking its name from Sir Āpirana Ngata, who expressed a vision for providing rich educational opportunities for the rangatahi of Ngāti Porou. Fast forward 62 years, and the school is working with its community to fulfil these ambitions, providing a range of academic and vocational opportunities to meet the needs of ākonga.


ducation Gazette had hoped to visit Ngata Memorial College, but plans went the way of many during Alert Level 4 in August 2021, and a Zoom call with principal Peter Heron had to suffice. Peter has just finished a Zoom meeting with staff. “Oh, it’s all good,” he says of how his school is coping with lockdown so far. “Everyone seems much more relaxed this time around, because they’ve all been through it once. We’re lucky in that we have laptops all the way through from Year 1 onwards – and we’ve got all sorts of software packages up. We’ve got families putting pictures on Facebook, students out in fields, their feet up.”

Area school life

Peter paints a good picture of life at Ngata Memorial College. It’s an area school, with just under 100 students in Years 1 to 13 from around the greater Ruatoria region. Unlike most area schools, it’s secondary-heavy with

approximately 20 primary students and 80 secondary ākonga. All learners, with the exception of some staff children, are Ngāti Porou. Peter says the school has a strong family feeling, echoing the whānau connection within their community. “When I first came here, I think I was the only one who wasn’t related,” he jokes, reflecting on his arrival at the school in July last year. The connectedness is definitely a strength of the community. “It’s good because you’ve got that whole East Coast support network, where everyone helps each other and there’s a lot of whānau care. But it’s also a challenge for our children because when they go out of the area, they can get a little bit nervous.” Peter’s keen to give his students the chance to explore opportunities beyond the East Coast, should they want to. He wants to see rangatahi given choices to pursue a range of pathways, both vocational and academic.

Principal, Peter Heron. Left page: Ngata Memorial College is named after leader and visionary Sir Āpirana Ngata.

18 October 2021

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Giving students options

The school has had real success with its students pursuing vocational pathways. However, the school community voiced a desire to see this balanced with more academic options for students. It has been seven years since the school last had a University Entrance (UE) student. “Our students can get employment in vocational industries if they want to work, which is a great thing. But there will be some students who could have gone a UE route but didn’t. It’s not about getting the students to university, it’s been giving them the choice,” says Peter. “For a lot of our families, they come back into education when they’re slightly older. And if they’ve got UE already, it just takes away some of those hurdles.” The drive for a more balanced approach to curriculum and learning came from the community itself, says Peter. The school has held well-attended community hui. With an old-fashioned sand timer and school bell, they took a speed-dating approach in which a board member and teacher would spend three minutes with each of six tables of 10 whānau. “We got a lot of feedback from the community. They told us they wanted local curriculum, and they also wanted academic aspiration. They wanted the children to have the ability to be whatever they want to be. And they want the route to get there.”

Sir Āpirana’s vision

It’s not a new aspiration for this community. Current Board of Trustees chair Timoti Maru attended Ngata Memorial College in the 1960s. He reflects that most of his cohort have achieved really well in their chosen pathways since school and puts it down to the strong academic base and range of options the college provided when it was formed. “Taking on the name and vision of Sir Āpirana Ngata created a new pathway for our community,” says Timoti of the school’s origins. Ngata Memorial College’s history – detailed on the school’s website – outlines how the people of Ngāti Porou

met in Uepohatu Hall in August 1958 and expressed to the Department of Education their wish for a college in Ruatoria offering full opportunities for the advancement of Ngāti Porou. “For many years Sir Āpirana Ngata, his tribal elders, and the parents, had sought full post-primary education for their children, offering full professional courses leading to the highest realms of scholarship, agricultural, industrial, commercial and home science courses leading to the highest positions in all spheres of vocation and in all walks of life,” states the school’s website.

Bright future

Sir Āpirana Ngata was a Ngāti Porou leader and devoted to the education and progress of Māori youth. The school’s motto, ‘E tipu, e rea, mo nga ra o tou ao!’, which means ‘Grow up in the days destined to you!’, is embedded in the identity of Ngāti Porou and consequently Ngata Memorial College. Timoti says the school had lost sight of this pathway and academic options were not visible in the school’s curriculum or valued in the school community. “Like any school, we’ve had our ups and downs and we went through a particularly difficult patch.” Following a lengthy period of statutory management, the new board has now been at the helm for two years. They’ve taken innovative measures and redirected resourcing into areas of teaching and learning that will provide both academic and vocational pathways for students. Timoti is excited about the future of the college. “The future’s getting brighter by the day,” he says. “There are a whole lot of good things happening, not just in the school, but in our wider community.”

Local curriculum

The school is working closely with its community to implement a strong local curriculum, one that supports Māori students to achieve as Māori in their chosen pathways.

Ngata Memorial College senior students were pleased to return to school after lockdown.


Education Gazette

In recent years, in response to a shrinking roll, the school had placed an emphasis on external providers, including sending half its secondary students to Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) – a four-hour round trip to Gisborne and back. While this was a good option for some students, the school recognised that many would benefit from remaining at school to pursue a variety of relevant, highquality courses. So they reduced the number of students attending courses at EIT to around 10, and in the process freed up more resource to be spent on staffing and offering more subjects at school.

Current Board of Trustees chair, Timoti Maru.

Diverse staff

This has allowed them to recruit additional staff, including teachers who have returned from overseas and international staff, complementing local Ngāti Porou staff. Timoti speaks highly of the staff they have in place. “When I went to school, teachers had to complete two years of rural service. We had a constant stream of new blood and new ideas. In more recent years the school has lost some of that diversity I think.” Therefore, the focus has been on employing staff who share in the vision for the school and add to the diverse range of skills. Just 15 percent of the original staff remain, with the new staff including Ngāti Porou teachers, Kiwi teachers returning from overseas, and international teachers. “We currently have teachers with doctorates in sciences and maths from the Philippines,” says Timoti. He says some students who were not engaged in their learning previously, are flourishing. “I’m thrilled to bits with what’s happening in those departments,” he says. Teachers who aren’t Ngāti Porou have been supported with learning about the area’s local history and kaupapa. “This has seen our Filipino science teacher running a Matariki project and our maths teacher from London joining in the kapa haka group. “The East Coast has an historical richness, from Sir Āpirana Ngata to Victoria Cross recipients, to members of the Māori Battalion. We can engage with that. It is more relevant to teach our students the dynamics of Te Tiriti and Māori land law at Year 9 than history they can’t connect to,” says Peter. Similarly, in hard technology, Year 9 students are benefitting from the sculpting expertise of their teacher and renovating gates of local marae and urapā. In food tech, a qualified marae caterer is helping students prepare kai for hangi. It’s about making lessons engaging and relevant, says Peter. As most staff are bilingual, te reo Māori is embedded in day-to-day lessons and school life.

“Education is the answer and getting our community on board is key.” Timoti Maru

Boosting attendance and engagement

And it’s having a positive impact on roll growth, with student numbers increasing in the past year from 80 to 97. “Even though these are small numbers in terms of overall, that’s an increase of 25 percent. Attendance has gone up from 64 percent to 84 percent over the year,” says Peter.

18 October 2021

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Head prefect Anahera Palmer.

The board has released money to upgrade school furniture so the learning environments are flexible and fit-for-purpose. Peter also points to increasing engagement from whānau with the school’s Facebook page as another indicator. “Our community really wants to engage. They need to know that they’re listened to. “A big thing people remark on is that our students are happy. As teachers, we get very much focused on academic achievement, but a parent’s focus is on students being happy. And we find happy students are the ones who are going to succeed anyway. You’re not going to do well at school if you’re not enjoying it.”

Expanding horizons

A student’s enjoyment of school can be enhanced by new experiences, something Ngata Memorial College is working hard to provide for its students. After a long period without competitive sport, the school has invested in sports equipment and is working with local schools to start sports competitions up again. It is also engaging with the Spirit of Adventure Trust and Outward Bound about scholarships for their students. Prior to lockdown, Peter took six boys down to Dunedin for the National Area School Sports Tournament. “Along with the sports, we also visited some of the Māori memorials down there and tourist sites; they got to see university life in action. It’s just an opportunity to see that it’s something they could do.” The school’s NCEA students were also set to visit Wellington as part of an experience provided by Nōna Te Ao Charitable Trust. The week-long visit, which was to include visiting Parliament, universities and Weta Workshop, was initially postponed because of Wellington’s earlier lockdown this year. “It was postponed to this week, but now we’re in lockdown, so they’ve unfortunately missed that opportunity. But the Trust is going to provide mentoring going forward.”


Education Gazette

Recently 19 final-year medical students visited the school as part of the Tairāwhiti Interprofessional Education Programme, which brings senior pre-registration students from different health disciplines together to gain experience in rural New Zealand. Year 10 students Rupuha Maihi and Te Rarua Morrell reported that the visit “really opened a door into the future for us, giving us an idea of the careers we can follow if we work hard”. Waikato University and Rural Health Careers are also supportive of the school and helping to show students from Year 9, and sometimes those in the primary years, what options are available to them. “It’s about lifting aspirations. It’s about normalising the different pathways students can take,” says Peter. “Our children may well choose to stay in local jobs, but it’s about giving them different opportunities.”

Anahera’s pathway

Head prefect Anahera Palmer is relishing the chance to pursue an academic pathway. She is working towards achieving University Entrance and has her sights set on a career in business and finance. She is young for her year and is considering taking a gap year between school and university, using the year to study a finance course at EIT before embarking on a degree. “We’re lucky to have so many opportunities in such a rural setting,” she says. “You’d think that there would be fewer options available because we’re so rural but I’ve had heaps of contact from universities with information and scholarship opportunities.” Anahera is pleased things are changing for the school and community. “I think sometimes it’s hard to break away from what has been the norm for so long, from what has happened before you, but it’s good that there are now opportunities to let us do that.” She’s aware that she and her peers are paving the way for those coming behind her. “It’s a big responsibility to be in an area school, and have

younger students look up to you.” Anahera says she’s been keeping up with her schoolwork during Alert Level 4, making the most of Zoom lessons, but she’s looking forward to getting back to school. “Face to face is so much better.”

Whakawhanaungatanga during lockdown

Realities of lockdown

Peter says it is a challenge keeping children connected with school and learning during lockdown. He says many parts of the student body are engaged, including UE students like Anahera, and particularly the primary students. However, paid work beckons for some of the secondary students. He admires the resilience of the students and their whānau; it’s a value that is particularly evident at a testing time like lockdown. “You see the pictures online and on the news of students working at home. The reality of a rural Decile 1 community is that some of our families live up a valley without reception or power. Some of our families don’t have mains electricity. “That said, we keep putting stuff out there. We’re doing daily Zoom lessons for our students. And we connect through Messenger, email, Facebook. It’s about keeping them connected. So, excluding the NCEA students, if students are doing an hour or two a day of learning, that’s fine. As long as they feel they’re still a part of school and as long as their families can also feel that there’s opportunity for their children to keep on succeeding, then that’s great.” Timoti says the board and wider community are very appreciative of the efforts of the staff and leadership. “I wish there was more we could do to show just how grateful we are, especially at challenging times like Covid.” Timoti and Peter agree the school goes hand in hand with its community. “We need to find people with the skillsets and the drive across the community to better engage students and parents in daily life and education. Most are supportive but there’s an element of needing a lot of care, love and support. Education is the answer and getting our community on board is key,” says Timoti.

Snapshot of the past

Before Ngata Memorial College was established in 1959, many students from the Ruatoria area attended Manutahi School. This short film, produced in 1947, gives a glimpse of school life back then. Reference: Ross Calman, ‘Māori education – mātauranga - The native schools system, 1867 to 1969’, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 11 October 2021).

18 October 2021

As the people of Ngāti Porou demonstrate, the collective strength and resilience of Māori communities gives their schools and kura an advantage that all can learn from. There are many other great examples across Aotearoa, but here are a small handful: At Tāneatua School, principal Marama Stewart says the Ngai Tūhoe community was amazing during the Covid period last year and rallied to make sure all whānau were supported. “We must have been one of the best-fed communities in the country during Covid,” she reflects. In Taranaki, a week prior to lockdown in 2020, the tumuaki of all the Kura Kaupapa Māori, Te Aho Matua ki Taranaki, came together to discuss and share ideas of how they could help and support each other, their tamariki and their whānau whānui. Ngapera Moeahu, tumuaki of Te Kura ō Ngaruahinerangi, shares how they surveyed their whānau to gauge their needs, including devices and connectivity. They organised wellness packs, and set up daily karakia sessions and learning opportunities. Ngapera says they are totally committed to ensuring the wellbeing of the kura whānau. “Manaakitanga is what we as Māori do well. This was our main priority before anything else. If it is anything we know, we know our whānau well.” Parents agree. One said: “Our kura is at the top of the ball game as we are delivering kai and looking after the whānau. Our kaiako go over and above their professional duties. I want to say ‘thank you’ to our kura for our parcels that arrived this morning. We really needed it. We were so thankful.” Meanwhile in Tāmaki Makaurau, whānau benefitted from the support of Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei, who reached out to their 5,500 hapū members across Aotearoa, and around the world, during lockdown last year. They provided devices and support as needed. Rangimarie Hunia, chief executive of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Māia, explains: “Our response was a hapū effort. We all figured out how we were going to support our families during one of the most unprecedented times of our generation.”

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These women share proud family connections with Hastings Girls’ High School: Shannon Edwards, Valencia Wainohu, Brenda Wainohu, 76 Education Gazette Acacia Edwards, Kahlia Awa, Shontelle Awa.


A shared history of collaboration, culture and community Education Gazette visits two schools in Hawke’s Bay with a rich history of collaboration, culture and community engagement.


astings Girls’ High School and Hastings Boys’ High School were originally one school, founded in 1904 as a District High School. It then became known as Hastings High School before becoming Hastings Technical School, under the leadership of William Penlington, in 1922. In the mid-1950s, the decision was made to split into two single-sex schools: Hastings Girls’ High School and Hastings Boys’ High School. Current principal of Hastings Boys’ High School Rob Sturch says that although there was no reason for it, the boys’ school remained on the original site, while the girls’ school took up residence on the other side of town. “If you look around the country, a lot of schools split at the same time; that happened in a number of provinces,” he says.

Shared symbols

While split by location, the two schools retained many commonalities. The symbols of the huia and the ākina both remain stalwarts for the two schools. The huia is a special bird for both Hastings Girls’ High and Hastings Boys’ High, and continues to underpin the relationship between the schools. It remains a familiar, fond memory for students both past and present. Hastings Girls’ High School principal Catherine Bentley refers to the rich history of the symbols, which is still referenced when decisions are made about the future of the school. “The ākina and the huia came via Ngāti Kahungunu. It was the grandfather of Ngahiwi Tomoana (current chair of Ngāti Kahungunu). It’s the symbol of rarified knowledge,” she says. Adding to this, Rob describes the relationship between two huia bird as pertaining directly to that of the two high schools. “The birds mated for life,” he says. “The chiefs only ever wore the huia feather – so of all the birds the huia was regarded as the chief of the forest.”

3 May 2021

The schools also share the same song entitled ‘Ākina’, though Catherine says the song “sounds really different” when sung at the different schools. One line in the song is particularly memorable for previous students, including Fred Morley who proudly recited the line, “In later years when far away, remember the song you sing today”.

Collaboration brings opportunities

The two principals also share a special bond and understand the importance of connection between the two schools in a small town where whānau and community is paramount. “Catherine and I chat about a lot of things education – there are common themes; it’s about catering for the unique group of students we have. It doesn’t matter if it’s girls or boys really, we all have to adjust to what suits. There is a real opportunity to share… to make sustainable classrooms,” says Rob. After an almost 10-year hiatus, the principals have collaborated to ensure both schools can perform at a national level for cultural celebrations such as kapa haka. “You can’t really do a national level kapa haka performance (as a single sex school) so that is a really good platform. The girls who are performing, their brothers are also performing – that’s the whānau connection,” says Catherine. Collectively, the schools have also participated in Kī-o-rahi at a national level, as well as joining forces for school productions, including the most recent iteration of Hairspray in 2019, while the student leaders meet regularly throughout the year. The schools both pride themselves on celebrating diversity and ensuring they acknowledge and support the vast and varied rangatahi who walk through the gates each day. “Our Pasifika community, for both of our schools, has really flourished – so we have kind of become the schools of choice for our Pasifika community. What happens is

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that there is a new level of responsiveness,” says Catherine. “Rob surged ahead first, offering Samoan as a subject, and we have followed suit and been highly successful. We can bounce off each other. Although we are different, we are talking about the same community.”

Generational change

Past and present students agree. Former student Brenda Wainohu, whose daughters and granddaughters have all attended (or still attend) Hastings Girls’ High School, praises the fact that the school is responsive to the different needs of the young women. “Hastings Girls’ High School caters to all socioeconomic groups, all cultures and their needs,” she says. She adds that the school has provided her granddaughters with the opportunity to compete and be celebrated at a national level through both sporting and cultural tournaments.

“There are common themes; it’s about catering for the unique group of students we have. It doesn’t matter if it’s girls or boys really, we all have to adjust to what suits.” Rob Sturch

Brenda’s great-grandfather, Fredrick William Morley, attended the original Hastings High School. Her brothers Fred and Anthony Morley attended Hastings Boys’ High School. Fred’s sons, Reuben and Asher, also attended the school. But things at Hastings Boys’ High School are very different from how they were in the early 1900s. “Any school, looking back 50-plus years, was always based around the traditional education system – that’s very much changed now,” says Rob. “What has really improved also is what constitutes learning and knowledge. Before, it was a three-hour exam and now there are a multitude of ways. Kapa haka and performing arts would never have been considered knowledge 50 years ago – we have really come a long way,” he adds.

Looking to the future

Former Hastings Boys’ High School student Fred Morley, wearing his Ākina tie and 1st XV cap.


Education Gazette

Moving forward, both schools want to build on their inclusivity, and continue to be responsive to the needs of their students, their whānau and the wider community. “We can’t build a local place-based curriculum on what is a colonial system. What we will aim to do first is break down the systemic racism that has come from a colonial system,” says Catherine.

“Then add the layers alongside the local iwi. We start there and we start with ‘our girl’ and build on her identity and that place of belonging, then we can start creating a really rich and vibrant curriculum around her. “How do we build a curriculum to give all girls the same opportunities, regardless of background, culture, beliefs? It’s about equity.” Rob agrees that the schools share this sentiment of equity. Ensuring the ever-changing needs of the students at Hastings Boys’ High School are met remains at the heart of any future-focussed decisions. “The whole education landscape is really changing. With the new changes to NCEA, there are a huge number of things we need to get our head around,” he says. “That’s going to be a real challenge for us – to keep pace and make sure we provide something really meaningful for our boys. “We have a significant trades programme running at school and the new NCEA structure recognises that vocational pathway so that’s really positive. It’s supplying something that the students will need – be it a plumber, a doctor or a lawyer – it’s about being responsive for your needs.”

3 May 2021

Son and father, Reuben and Fred Morley, share a strong tie to Hastings Boys’ High School.

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Hopes, dreams and high expectations at kura Tessa Moana Kake-Tuffley (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Maruwharanui) knows that she stands on the shoulders of her tūpuna and bears their hopes and dreams for an education system that works for Māori.

A whānau affair: Moana (second from right) with son Tamajames and parents Frances and Rangi Kake.

“We do want them to be scholars in areas of interest, but we also want them to know where the tea towel is when they go to the pā” Tessa Moana Kake-Tuffley 80

Education Gazette


essa Moana (Moana) Kake-Tuffley is the tumuaki of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Pihipihinga Kākano Mai Rangiātea (TPKMR) in New Plymouth and is also a graduate of the kura, in which her parents have been involved since its establishment in 1992. She is a proud product of a Māori immersion education: “I went through the Māori educational pathway from kōhanga reo to wharekura [school] and then whare wānanga [tertiary]. “For my family as a whole, the natural progression was to go from kōhanga reo to kura kaupapa. We were living in Auckland and I attended a kura kaupapa there. When we moved to Taranaki there wasn’t a kura kaupapa and I went to a local primary school. “Then they started having their kōrero and wānanga around establishing a kura kaupapa Māori. They were just firm believers in success of Māori as Māori and that was behind their aspirations for the kura,” she says.

Small beginnings

Moana’s parents, Rangi and Frances Kake, remember the early days when there was one teacher with whānau support and eight or nine tamariki at the kura. “We had to create everything from scratch and fundraise to pay teachers because we had to go on our own for two years to show the Ministry what we could do. At that time, you could bring your babies into the kura – it was quite a marae in some ways,” remembers Frances. “There’s a lot that’s been achieved, considering we had to make our own resources. For books, we just photocopied pages and did our own kids’ books,” she says. Rangi says initially the dream for TPKMR was to one day be level pegging with other kaupapa Māori around Aotearoa. “It’s not an easy road. You’ve got to be focused, not only as a leader/principal, but as a whānau as well. Even amongst our own people, the commitment has to be huge to climb that mountain to get to that high level; and it’s had its ups and downs, but it’s just perseverance and getting people involved,” he says. Moana remembers going to wānanga with her parents in the 1980s and ’90s. “I remember having so many different wānanga that catered to tamariki, but some were just for parents and we just went along. It was a really whānau environment. If we were doing a march for te reo Māori, the whole school would go and we’d walk around the whole of Taranaki in support of the revitalisation of our reo,” recalls Moana.

Tikanga Māori

At 36, Moana is a young tumuaki and is aware of the expectations placed on her and her Year 1-15 kura, which now has a roll of 115 students. “Going on the Māori pathway was a tikanga that my great grandfather and my grandmother instilled in us at a young age. “You are doing it to make a difference so that your mokopuna can hear of the mahi that their tūpuna or

3 May 2021

kaumātua helped to do, and to try and continue those aspirations. Everything that I do and how I speak to my children is not just as Māori, but to be able to provide better opportunities for ourselves to set our part of the world up for tamariki/mokopuna,” she says.

Confident and contributing citizens

When parents enroll their children at TPKMR, they are asked why they have chosen this kura option. “Of all the pathways, I believe, coming to kura kaupapa Māori isn’t just a ‘drop-off at 9, pick-up at 3’ kind of thing. It’s having a whānau hui every month that can take anywhere between one and four hours. It’s a lot of commitment and that’s just to whānau hui, let alone to te reo Māori, and ensuring the revitalisation of our reo,” says Moana. She says the focus is on whānau and the whole child, but she expects NCEA Level 3 passes where possible. “The standard is that NCEA Level 3 is a must and they aren’t leaving school until they get it – if you are Year 15, then ka pai. Having that expectation does get full on and they say they don’t want to let me down. We say, ‘The only thing that is stopping you is yourself’. We work through those maunga/mountains to ensure they have the skills to prepare themselves. “We do want them to be scholars in areas of interest, but we also want them to know where the tea towel is when they go to the pā and that they are confident and contributing citizens of their own whānau, hapū and iwi,” says Moana.

Giving back

Karere Huhu-Paraone was one of those students who had a few maunga to climb during his 12 years at the kura. In 2021, he will be completing his fourth year studying Toi Māori (art) at the Eastern Institute of Technology. “Karere left after Year 13,” says Moana, “and he had always wanted to be an artist of Toi Maori – he’s from Gisborne. We helped him through the pathway as he returned to his people of Te Tairāwhiti. He was the first graduate who had gone from New Entrant to Year 13. “He came back after eight months away and got up at the graduation and said he’s going to complete his degree in Toi Maori and then get his teaching diploma so that he can come back. “I’m so proud of the way the mindset changed with him. I was bawling my eyes out because I never thought I would hear that. His last two years were a long journey but it makes it all worthwhile when they are smashing their goals,” she says.

For an extended interview about Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Pihipihinga Kākano Mai Rangiātea, read this story at Education Gazette online, or scan this QR code.

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Cutting-edge digitech education in South Taranaki Principal Lorraine Williamson has marched to the beat of a different drum since she began teaching as a 19-year-old in Hawke’s Bay in the 1970s. Now she’s leading a small rural school in South Taranaki that offers cutting-edge digitech opportunities to its 200 Year 1-8 students.

Alex, Ben and Sahan with the laser cutter.


Education Gazette


punake in South Taranaki, population 1,400, is a surf town: a rural service town with State Highway 45 running through the middle. On a clear day, Mt Taranaki looms in the northeast. Small and dynamic with energy and enthusiasm to burn, Lorraine Williamson has been principal at Opunake Primary School for 20 years. “The school started as decile 2 when I began the job. There were some significant mergers – a lot of the rural schools closed down and Opunake Primary School was the hub – we’re a Decile 6 now. “Opunake went through a period where people came for lifestyle, but lots of people own holiday homes here now so there’s a significant housing shortage in the town,” she says. Opunake Primary school was built for 500-600 children and the warren of old-style classrooms could do with modernising. But the school has a cutting-edge digital technology ‘suite’ and boasts two types of laser cutters, 3D printers and a greenscreen room. Lorraine says years of saving and investing in the Taranaki Savings Bank and grants from the bank have enabled the school to have money to spend on the pricey equipment.

Different times

“It was very different when I started teaching,” says Lorraine. “We had chalkboards, no computers, lots of book learning and worksheets.” “There are a lot of students who we can’t look at as ‘one size fits all’. Even when I first started teaching, there were students who would have found it difficult to sit at their desks all day in a straight line, as we used to do. I was always looking for opportunities to motivate those students and really get them hooked into their learning,” she says. Even as a new teacher, Lorraine found different ways to teach, one time dragging an old wardrobe into her classroom. “We were reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe so I bought an old wardrobe and set it up in the corner of the classroom and the kids used to go through the wardrobe and dress up and do acting and drama behind the wardrobe and some of the older teachers used to think it was a bit OTT.” Lorraine moved to Taranaki in 1990, where she was principal 10 kilometres up the road at Te Kiri School for seven years. She says her philosophy of teaching hasn’t really changed over those years. “Te Kiri was a two-teacher school; I taught the Year 3-8s. We’d pack up all our desks and put them in the pool shed and have little cardboard boxes for our stuff and we’d work all over the floor,” she remembers.

Principal Lorraine Williamson.

“We have exposed them to a variety of different learning experiences and a way of thinking that means they can be successful at whatever they want to do.” Andrew Lodge

Digitech road trip

Fast forward to 2014 when Lorraine and colleagues Jarad Chittenden and Heath Chittenden, principals of Auroa and Matapu Schools, found themselves throwing money at old Windows technology that wasn’t performing for them.

18 October 2021

Andrew Lodge and students.

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Phillip and Kitty in the school's workshop.

They decided to go on an Apple road tour of schools in Auckland and Tauranga. They were challenged by tour guide and e-Learning facilitator Stuart Hale to brain dump their ideas into a Google Doc. “We all went, ‘What’s a Google doc?’,” remembers Lorraine. The result was the MOA Kluster, comprising Matapu, Opunake and Auroa schools, with Kaponga School joining and adding the ‘K’ to ‘Kluster” at a later date. Three of the schools went onto an Apple platform to share the expertise and cost. The schools in the cluster are now 1:1 iPad schools. “We looked at teacher pedagogy – what do we have to do to upskill our staff? So, we all shared the expense of bringing Stuart down to work with staff. We had not a single iPad or iMac in the school. Initially we bought about 50 devices and we thought we were Christmas. Nobody could use them! “One of Stuart’s suggestions is the only way you can


Education Gazette

change teacher pedagogy is to give them the tools and get them using them. So our Board bought an iPad for every teacher. We upskilled the teachers and then looked at what we could do that was going to up the ante on teachers and students so that we don’t just become a fly-by-night thing. So we decided to set up the MOA Awards,” explains Lorraine.

Red carpet event

The MOA Awards are held in Opunake’s Events Centre, which has been filled to capacity for three years running, with all 1000 $2 tickets sold. The competition includes movie making, animation, photography and graphic design. Winning entries can be seen on the school’s website “We ran the MOA Awards like the Academy Awards. People were gobsmacked – we had red carpet, kids being picked up in classic cars in their best bib and tucker – it’s very slick.

“We don’t have the capacity for all the people to attend, so we also decided to have the STEM showcase, because then we can spread the parents over a whole day instead of just the evening event,” she explains. In 2019 the STEM showcase, featuring the four MOA Kluster schools, 35 teachers and 616 students, was attended by 1271 whānau and people from the community.

Digital journey

Lorraine and some colleagues attended International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conferences in Denver and Chicago in 2016 and 2018 and were disappointed they couldn’t go to the event in Los Angeles in 2020 because of Covid-19. “This conference is probably the size of three rugby fields. What we saw was a window into the future of what technology looked like: they are very creative in the States, and they are ahead of us with technology,” she says. In the beginning, the digital journey of the South Taranaki cluster of schools was based around digital literacy in an authentic context. Lorraine’s philosophy of allowing children to immerse themselves in exploring learning has always been front and center of her approach and she says digital tools should enable creativity. “We started exploring things like computational thinking because we were looking for the ‘glue’ that sticks everything together – it’s not about the devices but how you use them. “

Authentic learning

American academic James Beane argues that if educators want to give students genuine student agency, they have to ask what their concerns and issues are about themselves and the world both now and in the future, says Lorraine. Senior teacher Andrew Lodge says that, as much as possible, activities are integrated into a real-life context, whether it be looking at local, national or global issues.

18 October 2021

Bede gets creative with Lego.

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“The idea is to give them a lot of different skills in their toolbox – both hands-on equipment and the way in which they can think and apply skills to help solve problems. It’s great that we have a lot of equipment but we need to be able to give the students opportunities to develop their computational thinking skills to apply the technology to solve problems. “An example of this was during our ‘Experiencing marine reserves’ work, where students were using a whole lot of different media and technology such as a laser cutter, Google Apps, iMovie, Minecraft, book making, visual art and digital drawing to share what they have learnt with the school and community,” explains Andrew.

Preparing for the future

Walk around Opunake Primary School with Lorraine and you’ll see that small children are drawn to her like to a magnet. After 44 years in the profession, she still loves teaching and is passionate about providing wide-ranging opportunities for children. “I say to the teachers, these kids get one crack at it. There’s very limited employment in Opunake; most of our parents work at factories in Eltham and Hawera. Other employment is local shops, cafes, the local schools. Once they are here, what can we do to give them the best shot at life that they can possibly have. I’m really quite passionate

about that: I think that school needs to be more than just reading, writing and maths,” she says. Andrew agrees that it’s important for children from small rural schools to have the kind of opportunities provided at Opunake Primary School. “We live in an ever-changing world, which has become more extreme with the problems arising around Covid-19. For me, it is about giving them exposure to ideas, experiences and a way of thinking that is going to help them as they leave here for high school and then look to enter the workforce. “Who knows what these kids will be doing as a job when they are 20, 30 or 50? I want our kids to have confidence, so that they won’t be afraid to go to a city for university, or try to get into a skilled trade to do what they want with their life because we have exposed them to a variety of different learning experiences and a way of thinking that means they can be successful at whatever they want to do,” says Andrew.

Read this story online for extended interviews about Opunake Primary School and a video: Building Curious New Zealanders.

“We started exploring things like computational thinking because we were looking for the ‘glue’ that sticks everything together – it’s not about the devices but how you use them.” Lorraine Williamson


Education Gazette

Teacher Daniel Barr with tamariki.

18 October 2021

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Principal Peter Kaua has led a culturally responsive approach at Whanganui City College.


Education Gazette


Where I’m from, where I’m going Whanganui City College, which began life as a technical college, now has a proud focus on developing students who know who they are, where they come from and where they’re going.


hanganui City College Principal Peter Kaua (Ngāti Porou) bursts with pride and aroha for the students, of whom 80 percent identify as Māori, and what they achieve. When Education Gazette visited the school, he had just had a visit from a former student. “Students come in all the time to say, ‘Hello, I’m doing this, I’m doing that’. And they’re doing very well – they’ve got good jobs - a future. “At the beginning of the year a former student came in – he was ex-Military Services Academy. He’s been at the meat works for a few years, has bought his own house and told me he’s going into the Army. A few of us from school went up to his march-out at Waiouru and discovered that he was top cadet of the 100 or so that were on the course – we are so proud,” says Peter. The Military Services Academy is one jewel in the 300-student school’s crown, says Peter. Another is Te Ara Wairua, an alternative education programme, the result of a partnership between the school and Te Puna Matauranga o Whanganui, the education arm of the local iwi.

Not good enough

But it wasn’t always like that. Peter, who has taught for more than 40 years, became principal at the college in 2008. Efforts had been made to raise achievement, and in 2014, the school was congratulating itself on the best NCEA results they had ever had: 35 percent pass rate at Level 1, 45 percent at Level 2 and 20 percent at Level 3. Peter realised this was wrong. “Thinking it’s just because we have tough kids is deficit thinking. That year, every teacher including myself got a whānau class: 350 kids, 35 staff, that’s 10 kids to mentor each. “Zoom forward to 2015, the results were 63 percent pass rate at Level 1, 60 percent pass rate at Level 2 and we don’t have many that do or pass Level 3, but there was a dramatic improvement. So, we’re up there now.”

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Culturally responsive

Peter had been involved in the Kotahitanga programme at his previous school, Western Heights High School in Rotorua. He agrees with the culturally responsive pedagogy that finding strategies that work for Māori learners, works for every student. Whanganui City College was also a pilot school in the initiative, which supports teachers to improve Māori students’ learning and achievement by creating a culturally responsive context. But when a new approach was suggested by the Ministry of Education in 2014, Whanganui iwi stepped in. “They said, ‘Nah, nah, we need to be part of this and we need to have a say in what happens in the secondary school’. We started on this journey and from then on, everything changed,” says Peter. A partnership between Te Puna Matauranga o Whanganui and Cognition Education began. Te Kākahu is a locally developed professional learning approach for secondary schools in the Whanganui rohe, which works with school leaders and teachers on professional leadership and schooling practices, as well as on curriculum design.

Place-based learning

Dr Mike Paki (Ngāti Apa) is iwi representative for Te Puna Matauranga o Whanganui and works with early childhood to secondary education providers in the Whanganui Kāhui Ako. His PhD focuses on indigenous education and he has researched why many Māori have not been successful in the education system. He concluded that they didn’t see themselves in schools and the system. Through a programme, Ngā Iere o te Whenua - the Voices of the Land, teachers are taken to places of significance to iwi such as the marked spot in Moutoa Gardens where Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed.

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Head girl Kyla says she wants to go further in learning about her Māori culture.

“I took the science teacher and the deputy principal at City College on a four-day waka journey from the source of the river on the mountain to the Whanganui River mouth. After that he completely changed his approach to the science programme that he was delivering. He rewrote it to incorporate some of the things he had seen and done on the river – it really changed his outlook. “It’s changed a lot of the attitudes of some of the whānau and the kids, because all of a sudden someone is talking to them about something that is of some importance to them. They sometimes become the tutor, which changes the dynamic and builds whanaungatanga between them because the teacher can learn from the student,” he says.

Learning from Māori culture

From Year 9, akonga at Whanganui City College learn about their local stories beginning with a school camp at Mangatepopo on Mount Tongariro, from where Whanganui River flows. Head girls in 2020, Kyla (Te-Atihaunui-a Paparangi) and Ani (Ngāti Porou) have experienced the school’s learning journey firsthand.

“If education only comes from one lens and if it doesn’t work for you, then you have students who fail. But now the lens has shifted.” Peter Kaua

School was quite different in Craig Smith's day, but he welcomes the changes.


Education Gazette

“I think even while we’ve been at school, we’ve seen quite a lot of curriculum-based changes and I think that City is really headed into more selfmotivated learning,” says Ani. “They were even trialing new stuff when we were juniors, like connecting us to the river and educating us about our Māori history but also incorporating that in science, geography: learning how our ancestors did science and incorporating that into the new world. It’s kind of seeing how everything doesn’t have to be the colonial way of learning – it’s like our ancestors figured things out,” she explains. “Before starting at City College, I didn’t really know myself and where I came from – my whakapapa and my pepeha,” says Kyla. “But coming here, I know more about tikanga and kawa (Māori protocol) and the basic te reo. That’s given me a lot more confidence in myself and knowing that I want to go further in learning about my culture,” she says.

Success story

Year 10 student, Quinn (Ngāti Maniapoto), is just one of the success stories of the education partnership between the school and Te Puna Matauranga. In 2019, when he was in Year 9, he was excluded from school. “I was at the school for about four months and then got into fights, ditching classes, being disrespectful to teachers. It just wasn’t working for me. I was a little shit,” he admits. “A few months later, Mr Kaua told my brother that there was a spot for me in Te Ara Wairua. I ended up over there. Everything has changed. When I was over here, none of the teachers were helping me in classes. Over there, we get all the help. I was clever in primary school but when I came here everything just changed. It’s like family/whānau. We have each other’s backs, don’t talk down to one another,” says Quinn. By the end of Year 10, Quinn had achieved NCEA Levels 1 and 2 in English, mathematics and te reo Māori – he is the first student in the school’s history to achieve this. He hopes to go into farming when he leaves school. “Being in this programme has helped me know where I’m from and who I am,” he says. Peter says the guiding light of the programme is Matua Werahiko Craven. “He IS the man. He’s been with us for 11 years, he’s a master carver, he’s from the iwi, he’s got such a nice, lovely nature and the boys just don’t want to upset him. He cares for them, he’s the glue. “We’ve had a huge success with kids. Quinn isn’t the only one. You go over to the room and there’s the wall of fame and there are all these kids that have NCEA Level 1 and 2,” says Peter.

Quinn with Matua Werahiko Craven, who is credited with much of the success of Te Ara Wairua.

Military Services Academy

Whanganui City College’s Military Services Academy is ‘one of the best things I have ever done’ says Peter. The Academy, which includes NCEA credits, life skills and community service, is for Year 12 and 13 students and has been in the school for the past 11 years. Former pupil, parent and chairman of the Board of Trustees at the time, Craig Smith, says the school was offered the opportunity by All Black Buck Shelford, an old school mate of Peter’s, and grabbed it ‘for all it was worth’. “People may think the military academy is for the kids who are more troublesome and difficult – it’s not that way at all. It’s an opportunity for those people who want to go into the services, whether it’s Police, Fire, Army, any of those usual services. “It’s not all about grabbing the more challenging students but it says: this is the way you dress, that’s what your shoes are like, that’s your uniform, you take pride in it, you iron it, you get it clean ... you get here on that time, go at that time and while you are here, this is what we do,” explains Craig.

8 February 2021

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“It’s been hell of a successful because sometimes if you turn around the more challenging students, they will turn their cohorts around, who may not necessarily be in the Academy,” says Craig. “At the march-out I always cry because I see their parents can see they have some potential and I know where some of them have come from. It sets them up and a lot of them get work easily,” says Peter. Prefect Bryleigh graduated from the Academy at the end of 2020 and hopes to join officer training in the Army. “I feel the Services Academy has helped me out quite a lot due to me going in there not knowing what I want to do and me coming out wanting to go in the Army or the Navy. Being in this course helped me identify what it is I wanted to do. I definitely wouldn’t have thought I was a leader when I was younger,” she says.

Kyla, Bryleigh and Ani are looking forward to bright futures.

Racism and inequities

Racism and inequities in society and the education system will continue to dog Māori students, says Peter, who says he was a haututū (mischief) at school. “I just went to school to play sports. When I got to secondary school, the teachers realised that was my hook. I had good teachers at Western Heights High School in Rotorua – and then I went back there as the deputy principal! “They wouldn’t let me do sport unless I did my work. Then they said to me, ‘You’ve got brains, use the bloody things’,” he remembers. Since 1911, the school’s motto has been ‘All is overcome by working’. Peter says that the colonial values are still upheld but intermeshed with new ways. Today the school’s WERO (challenge) stands for: Whanaungatanga, Empathy and Resilience combining in Oranga, which is a healthy future. “If education only comes from one lens and if it doesn’t work for you, then you have students who fail. But now the lens has shifted. If my kids – Pākehā and Māori – can walk in both worlds when they leave here, they are unique,” he says.

For extended interviews and more about Whanganui City College’s journey over 110 years, see this story at Education Gazette online.

Proud and happy: principal Peter Kaua.


Education Gazette

8 February 2021

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Wayne Brown, with his wife, Alycia, welcomes the opportunity to lead Whanganui Collegiate into the future.


Whanganui Collegiate: Turning children of promise into adults of character Whanganui Collegiate School, established in 1854, is one of New Zealand’s earliest secondary schools and teachers and students alike are proud of its unique traditions and heritage; as well as the fact that 108 international boarders and staff formed one of the country’s largest isolation bubbles during Level 4 Covid-19 in 2020.


hanganui Collegiate School has been on the same site in central Whanganui since 1911 and while there are many architectural styles, including a new awardwinning library and admin block, the buildings create an English village-like atmosphere. Wayne Brown is the school’s 21st headmaster and is unapologetic about the school’s adherence to rules, standards and tradition. “You do not walk on the grass, you do not have your phone. You meet and greet – eye contact and handshake. You have a standard that you have to adhere to – that’s called responsibility,” says Wayne. “Character-based values underpin everything here. Academic excellence is our keystone because knowledge is really important. But I know that it’s the development of knowledge and character that’s going to be of good influence. “We’ve proven already in 2020, with the way New Zealand handled the Covid crisis, that you can have all the knowledge in the world, or the perception that you’ve got all the knowledge, but if you don’t have the right character to execute the knowledge, what good is it?”

Boarding model develops whole child

As a seven-day-a-week boarding school, with 88 percent of the roll of 310 being boarders, Wayne says the school has an opportunity to develop the whole child. “Adversity creates resilience and our students need to be placed in that adversity – challenged and taken out of their comfort zones. “At a student’s first interview, I tell them: ‘There’s more in you than you know. It doesn’t just happen through osmosis. You have to work hard at it and if you don’t understand it, you don’t understand it yet’.

8 February 2021

“I say there’s no place worth going that you can reach with a shortcut. We talk about that journey all the time,” says Wayne.

Long association

When Alec McNab arrived at the school in 1973, 24 years old and newly married, he was tasked with setting up and heading a PE department and establishing an athletics, track and field programme at the sporty school, where rugby, cricket and rowing predominated. “I was at Loughborough University, a very big physical education college in the Midlands (in England) studying sport and Sir Peter Snell was there for a year. He knew Collegiate principal, Tom Wells and Tom said, ‘I want a young teacher who will specialise in athletics and get a PE department going’,” remembers Alec. Known as one of ‘Tom’s Poms’, the proud Scot and his wife came by sea so he would have a chance to read, think and prepare for his new role. Alec developed the physical education programme, and then was Director of Sport for 25 years overseeing a wideranging programme. He continues to coach elite athletes at the school.

Girls change culture

Alec says that while some changes were subtle, the biggest change was the introduction of girls in 1991. “Having girls was a brave step and I think the school did it extraordinarily well. Our first group of girls – 45 senior students – were real pioneer women. They had come to a very established boys’ school and had to make a presence – and they did. The first intake of junior classes at the end of the decade were similar. They were pretty out there, because they felt they had something to prove,” he says.

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“It would be silly to say it hasn’t changed the school – of course it has. We’re reasonably close to 50/50 now. The girls were pretty tough mentally. The range of things those girls went on to do has been quite remarkable.”

Sense of history

The sense of history is palpable at the 166-year-old school, where the Museum and Archives house a collection of artifacts and taonga dating back from the earliest days of the school: these include photographs, documents, uniforms, sporting cups and records and memorabilia. Old boy Richard Bourne and his assistant Frances Gibbons proudly show Education Gazette a living database in which every student has been recorded – and continues to be recorded – since the school was established. The records show their achievements at school and what they went – and go on – to achieve in their lives. Many of today’s students know that they walk proudly in the footsteps of their forebears. “We have a lot of generational families and I say to them I want them to pave their own pathway: ‘you don’t need to pave Dad’s or Mum’s – pave yours,” says Wayne. Head boy in 2020, James says he’s a fifth- or sixthgeneration Collegiate boy. “There’s quite a big family background. There weren’t really expectations for me to come here – I wanted to come to this school. I almost felt I had a need to because there’s such a strong family history here,” says James. Year 10 student Bella is a third generation Collegian.

“You feel more at home, because my dad gets so excited when I tell him something about the school. He says ‘I did that too!’. Alec McNab coached my dad! The school is very traditional and it’s still kept a lot of that tradition,” she says.

From promise to character

For Wayne Brown, the ideal graduate of Whanganui Collegiate School is someone who can walk anywhere and contribute to his or her community. “Our catchphrase is: Turning young children of promise into young adults of character. “My ideal graduate is someone who is honest, takes responsibility, is accountable for their actions, trusts (people, the system, the process), has the ability to get out of their comfort zone; or to follow, challenges the norms of society, but respectfully; is not affected by the tall poppy syndrome and will be a lifelong learner because the lifelong knowledge that they pick up, along with their character will be of great influence,” says Wayne.

For an extended interview about Whanganui Collegiate School, read this story at Education Gazette online, or scan this QR code.

Alec McNab arrived at the school for a year – 48 years ago.


Education Gazette

After retiring, Richard Bourne – a Collegiate old boy – found a new job running the school's archives.

Old uniforms are displayed in the archives.

“We want them to be of great influence and the only way they will be of great influence is if they are of good character.” Wayne Brown

There’s a strong tradition of former students sending their children to Collegiate: L-R, back: Max, Bella, Kimiora, Jack, and (front) Leilani and James all continue their family tradition.

8 February 2021

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Grace, Taina and Te Manawa say a girls’ school has given them confidence to follow their dreams and aspirations.


Education Gazette


Girls can do anything Education Gazette visits Whanganui Girls’ College, one of the oldest single sex schools in New Zealand, finding a rich history and a bright future for today’s students.


ounded in 1891, Whanganui Girls’ College has had some strong women at the helm. Headmistress Miss Isabel Fraser introduced the first kiwifruit seeds to New Zealand from China in 1904, making her responsible for generating an industry that forms a key platform in the New Zealand economy. Some impressive names feature on the school’s alumni list, including the more recent additions of entrepreneur Victoria Ransom and cricketer Emily Travers. Fast forward to today, and principal Sharon Steer, who took the role at the beginning of 2020, encourages her students to follow in the footsteps of great Kiwi women role models and become wāhine toa themselves. She says that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is a respected role model for the school’s students, as she is not only strong, but also shows compassion: awhi (support) is one of the school’s key values. “At girls’ schools the tall poppy syndrome doesn’t seem to be as prevalent. The students celebrate each other’s success and provide each other with support when needed. For example, last year when the Year 13s were finishing their art portfolios, the ones who had finished, stayed behind with the others to encourage them to achieve. A younger girl, who was the sister of one of the girls, was busy cleaning up. They were there with, and for, each other,” says Sharon. Sharon has taught at both co-ed and single sex schools. “My feeling is that the single sex environment creates a kind of cocoon for them to flourish as young people. They can just get on with it. “I think it can take longer for girls to find their place in a co-ed school, whereas in a single sex school, they often find their niche a lot faster,” explains Sharon.

Strong voices

Te Manawa Pinnock (Ngāti Porou) is head girl this year and has spear-headed a group called Te Korimako (the bellbird) which has helped grow tikanga and the voice of Māori students in the school.

26 July 2021

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“My mum had a hard life raising me and my brother on her own, so I think I always wanted to make her proud, show her she did do a good job and raised good kids; and that all the hard work and things she had to put aside meant something. “Being Māori growing up, society puts a mentality that they’re not going to do well. That’s always been in the back of my mind to not let that be a barrier; to push past that and prove them wrong – just to show you can do it,” says Te Manawa. She hopes to join the Police or be a doctor or nurse when she leaves school. “In the past couple of years, I have wanted more to join the Police, just seeing the difference that police officers do in the community. It’s important for me as a young Māori woman.

“My feeling is that the single sex environment creates a kind of cocoon for them to flourish as young people. They can just get on with it.” Sharon Steer “I would rather be in a job that didn’t make much [money], but I was happy. I think I just want to get voices out and let young people, old people, anyone – let their voices be heard and just be a beacon. The voice is to get rid of those stereotypes that Māori are living off a benefit, don’t look after their kids, aren’t going anywhere. I think they just need support to help them,” she says.

Diverse career opportunities

Whanganui Girls’ College works hard to create pathways for students so that, no matter what happens, they can plot their future and know they have options. Nina Barbezat is the teacher in charge of pathways/ careers and says that as a small school (roll 360), oneto-one support and guidance can be provided to each student, whether they follow an academic or vocational pathway. “When our students are in Year 11, we have lots of options to start sending them out on little tasters with Whanganui UCOL (Universal College of Learning). They have tasters in the traditional female roles such as hair and beauty but also around things like forklift safety, electronics and automotive engineering.

Top left: Principal, Sharon Steer. Bottom left: Nina Barbezat thinks girls from a girls’ school feel empowered to try different career pathways.


Education Gazette

Whanganui Girls' College proudly displays its history in the school's foyer, with displays like these old school uniforms.

“Then when our students are in Year 12 and 13, we can start sending them out on one or two day a week courses. Last year I had two students out on mechanical engineering and one student out on automotive engineering and while that is normally a male dominated industry, now our girls are doing it. They probably feel quite empowered to do the boy things because there are no boys here to tell them they can’t,” says Nina.

High goals

Nina is involved with Whanganui’s careers advisory network 100% Sweet Whanganui, which aspires to have all of Whanganui’s school leavers meaningfully engaged in education, training or employment. “I’ve got some students who are employed in fastfood outlets. That is awesome for now, but they know that we are going to contact them again in a year’s time to make sure they have their next plan in place. “Working in fast-food is 100 per cent better than doing nothing. But in my conversations with students, I will say: ‘I know you might have a goal to get into tourism or further training – so can I contact you in a year and see if you’ve still got that goal to go further and if you have done something about achieving that goal? I remind them that unless you plan to climb the ladder at your fast-food job, you will sit at that level for a long time,” says Nina. “Whether a girl is going to go straight into work, or whether she is going to go into a tertiary course, we have given them the tools to be successful wherever they are going,” concludes Sharon.

26 July 2021

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Students past and present After setting up an alternative education programme in Whanganui for the YMCA, she taught at schools in Dunedin and Whanganui before getting her dream job at her old school.

Better, but same

While Debra loved her school days and thinks that today’s school students have more weight on their shoulders, she believes that things are better for today’s girls and young women. “It does feel better because, to be honest, when I was at school, the academic girls all went off to university and the rest were the hoi polloi. Nowadays you are valued for whatever pathway you choose. I have had students at other schools leaving because they are having babies. In the past people would say ‘you’ve ruined your life’ but those girls have gone on to run beautiful families, run businesses etc. “Family dynamics are still there – even though we think they have changed – and the girls are still navigating that at the same age we did. They are still finding a valid place for themselves in the world and we were doing the same thing,” she says.

Reaching for the stars Whanganui Girls’ College Old Girl Debra Tunbridge is happy to be back at her old school as HOD of the school’s Learning Centre.


ebra Tunbridge sometimes pinches herself and touches the walls at Whanganui Girls’ College, as she remembers her school days there in the 1970s. Debra returned to her old school in 2017 and is SENCO and HOD of the school’s Learning Centre. “I came from Kawerau College in the Bay of Plenty in the 1970s. It was a complete culture shock, because some of our teachers still wore black capes in class. You’d sit at an old wooden desk that someone had scratched their name on in 1942. Just the sense of history here was quite overwhelming to start with. “But I just relaxed into this school because we didn’t have boys here and it was so much easier. We used to go swimming and if you didn’t have your togs, you had to go swimming in your gym rompers! I formed really lovely relationships with girls that I’ve had all my life,” she says. Debra graduated as a teacher when she was 40 as, while she had been in an academic stream, she initially didn’t want to follow in a sister’s footsteps. “Really when I left school there were only three options: teaching, nursing or the commercial/secretarial sector. When I was at school you didn’t have big dreams. I spent 10 years working in the finance/banking sector and then had a family,” she says.


Education Gazette

Taina Bauleka comes from a high-achieving family in Fiji and while she wants to make her parents proud, she also wants to be successful on her own terms. A Year 13 Whanganui Girls’ College student in 2020, she is studying health science at university and ultimately would like to return to Fiji and establish a company. “My hope is to make a name for myself – to always carry my parents’ surname but to also make a name for myself. If I was in Fiji, it would be a little difficult because I would be working under their name; they are quite successful – especially in the (medical) field I want to work in. “I have never allowed limitations to stop me. I have always tried to reach for the stars as much as I can. I don’t feel there’s a glass ceiling that will stop me,” she says. While Taina is confident and assertive, her classmate Grace Souness is more softly spoken and says she wasn’t very confident when she started at the school in Year 9. The 2020 Head of Academia plans to study veterinary science and ultimately wants to work in rehabilitation centres in Africa to help save animal species. “When I came in Year 9, I didn’t think I was going to become a vet. This school has made me more confident. Being with only girls and having such small classes means I can have my own individuality and that made me realise who I am. The small classes mean you can bond with all the other girls and get one-to-ones with the teachers and that really boosts your confidence,” she says.

‘Why should they have girls’ high schools?’


hen it opened its doors in February 1871, Otago Girls’ High School was the first secondary school for girls to open in New Zealand – in fact in all of ‘the Australasian colonies’. Christchurch Girls’ High School was opened in 1877. In the early 1870s, the women of the extended Richmond Atkinson family in Nelson felt strongly about higher education for girls and pressured Nelson College’s governors, who said they had “long and ardently entertained a wish…to erect a high school for girls in the province”, but in the end they found the project was “neither prudent nor legal”. Nelson College for Girls finally opened in February 1883, 27 years after Nelson College for Boys. There was no formal opening and when the first contingent of girls arrived, they found a large unfinished building set in a rough paddock surrounded by piles of timber and bricks. While there was a desire for young women to be able to achieve and gain some power over their lives, secondary education for girls was still very much ahead of its time. Miss Beatrice Gibson, principal of Nelson College for Girls from 1890–1900, wrote: ‘The time had come when educationalists realised that it was not enough to give girls an education quite identical to that given to boys. It was the life of the woman for which it must prepare; and this

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was just the stage in the College history when we were trying to bring this ideal into effect; mindful that all sides, the physical, the mental, the spiritual, and all womanly qualities needed guiding.” In 1884, an article in the Otago Daily Times asked the question: Why should they have girls’ high schools? It was suggested that “the richer classes wished to save the expense of governesses” and educate their daughters at the expense of the State. “A good deal was nowadays heard of what was termed women’s rights and if society was to be established on a firm basis, they would have to look to higher education of women as well as men.” (ODT, 19 April 1884). A search of the Papers Past website shows there was little fanfare when Wanganui Girls’ College opened in February 1891. Principal, Miss E C M Harrison (MA) was announced along with an assistant principal, art master and a staff of visiting teachers. “The College is a fine and commodious building, containing a Boarding Establishment under the immediate supervision of the Lady Principal and her Assistants, and is situated in a salubrious part of the Suburbs of Wanganui,” reported the Wanganui Chronicle, 3 December 1890.

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Providing the right support Sue Nimmo has been a teacher aide for 40 years. Here she reflects on the highs and lows and changes she has seen in the role in that time.

Q: What led you to become a teacher aide?

Sue: I was a mum in the mid-1970s and I volunteered at Castlecliff School, Whanganui. I actually did many volunteer roles at the school: lunch lady, in the library, gala organisation, school committee treasurer were among them. I also worked as one of the school cleaners. In 1979 I was offered a position of teacher aide in the junior class at Castlecliff. As I could do this and still be at home after school and in the holidays with my own children, I accepted the position.

Q: Where do you work now?

Sue: At present I am working at Tawhero School in Whanganui and have been there for 10 years. I completed 29 years at Castlecliff previous to that.

Q: What does the job entail?

Sue: My present role is a teacher aide working in the New Entrant class. I work with small groups and assist the


Education Gazette

children to build their numeracy, writing and phonics knowledge. I also have extra hours from Ministry of Education and Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour to work one on one with children supporting their learning, enabling them to work in a secure calm environment which is focused on them.

Q: Has the nature of your job changed much over the years?

Sue: Initially employed in 1979, you didn’t actually work closely with specific children, it was more classroom support. I made the paints and paste and worked alongside the teacher to support learning. I then began working in the ‘Special Needs Class’. It was a limited supervisory role that over time has grown significantly and looks very different from its ‘mother help’ origins. Then changes came about in the 1990s when a new approach to education came in with Tomorrow’s Schools. The 1989 Education Act changed its thinking

“The best bits are watching the children we have supported to achieve goals that they would not have been able to” Sue Nimmo around our special needs children. They were mainstreamed into the class environment and began learning alongside their classmates. The role of teacher aide also changed. Many support staff began teacher aide studies through the likes of Massey University. PLD (Professional learning Development) became available. The role of teacher aides developed alongside inclusive education practice. Teacher aides bring knowledge and skills into the learning of each tamariki. The relationships we build with them is the enabler to their future learning.

Q: Do you enjoy working as a teacher aide? What are the best bits?

Sue: The best bits are watching the children we have supported to achieve goals that they would not have been able to; allowing children to reach their potential that they never thought they could. Even if that means supporting them to learn to write their name, simple for some but for others not so, and it is that which makes me love my role.

Q: And the worst bits?

Sue: The worst bits are the insecurity around our role, wondering ‘will I have a position next year?’ The fixedterm issue, when working with children who receive funding; if the child leaves the school our job is no more. There is frustration around this felt by many support staff.

Q: Do you have any particularly vivid, funny or poignant moments from your work as a teacher aide that you would like to share?

have meat tonight’, ‘Gone to buy the children shoes’ and ‘I can now join with my colleagues socially as I can now afford a coffee’. We have always been strongly supportive advocates for the children we work alongside but from now on we will be paid our worth. This equates to being valued and feeling more connected.

Q: What about the related boost to teacher aide professional learning? Sue: The Professional Learning and Development fund can only increase the skills and knowledge for us all. To be able to access this fund will mean a huge difference for teacher aides that have long wanted to upskill and become better informed. The tamariki we work with will benefit as well in having trained teacher aides to help them. What the fund offers in the way of courses is amazing. For me it is good to feel valued and that our role within education is recognised.

Q: What role would you like to see teacher aides playing in schools in the future?

Sue: Building on the base knowledge we have now, let’s aim for the possibility of no glass ceiling and that with knowledge, support staff can continue with their career pathways that will now be developed. Where will it end? Wait and see.

Sue: Over all my years in the role there are many tamariki who have remained in my heart. There are many that have gone on from school to become doctors, dentists, chefs and pursue other amazing careers.But there was one very poignant moment a few weeks ago: I needed medical assistance and had Doctor Katie tend to me. She has always been an amazing person – both as a five-year-old when she first arrived at school with the hugest smile to now, as the most amazing doctor.

Q: How important is the teacher aide pay equity settlement to teacher aides? Sue: The pay equity settlement is historic and it means a huge difference to many teacher aides. It is momentous in education history. I have been able to watch comments coming through like, ‘I can afford a haircut now’, ‘We can

26 July 2021

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Celebrating a century at the heart of the community Celebrating its centenary this year, Feilding High School has a rich history in providing agricultural education. Today it works with its community in striving to enable excellence in wherever students’ passions lie.


eilding High School was established in 1921 to provide agricultural education in New Zealand. From an old brick building in the middle of a cow paddock, it’s become a comprehensive state school with two farms: a 16-hectare dairy farm and an 81-hectare sheep and beef farm. “Our goal is to try and enable excellence in our kids in what their passion is,” says Principal Nathan Stewart. “For some kids it’s agriculture and their interests lie in the vocational pathways; for others it’s the academic side of learning. We are trying very hard and deliberately to look after both sets of students the best we can. “Our top priority, however, is to help enable excellence in good kids – we make great people first. They are people that are going to respect others, respect themselves and add value to our community. “Secondary to that are our academic and vocational pathways – creating avenues for kids to have fruitful lives and choices when they leave school to do something they want to do,” says Nathan. Feilding is a small rural community, so agriculture plays a significant role and is an important part of the local curriculum.

The dairy farm is there to support agriculture and the benefit for the kids is huge. They see and learn good farming practices, but they are also exposed to the financial side of running a farm.

Theory and practice

The Voluntary Milking System allows cows to milk when they want to, which might be once a day or three times a day – it’s up to them. Teachers then link this data into classroom learning. The school is on a path to get the farms more productive and they’re taking the students with them on that journey; they learn both the theory and the practice. The school has a partnership with companies Carrfields and H&T, in which several parents are involved, and those companies set up real trials, from drenching, different grass types, agricultural plantings, the best way of fattening lambs, through to how to get the best out of the pasture. “These parents and companies that support us are an immense help – our kids learn agriculture in the classroom and on the farms,” says Nathan.

Te Rau Hui performing.


Education Gazette

There’s also a full hostel of approximately 180 students from all over the central North Island. Hostel students can walk across and engage in farm activities after school, so access to learning is boundless.

Shearing competition and opportunities

Last year, for the first time since 1991, the school held a shearing competition. Prior to Covid-19, the shearing preliminaries were held at the farm, with the finals held in the school hall. “Our school hall was full – there wasn’t enough space!” says Nathan. “Students were keen to watch their mates shear and it was a fantastic opportunity for the shearers to show what they do and how good they are.” It also brought members of the community into the school, such as shearing judges and other volunteers. Students can make significant money shearing through summer. Other students spend hours contracting driving tractors or in other skilled jobs. “We want to continue to build up the farms so the opportunities for our kids are diverse, no matter what they go on to do,” says Nathan. “The Ministry of Education should be hugely proud that they have an asset like Feilding High School and they’ve allowed it to grow and flourish. It’s a unique part of their own toolbox because it’s ‘ours’. “We talk about the school being ours because it’s not just for our staff and students, it’s ours collectively to engage with. For the first time this year, we’ve invited people through the farm gate so they can see what’s theirs.”

Belong, Engage, Succeed

Feilding High School has high expectations for every student, says Nathan. “We’ve got a saying here: Belong, Engage, Succeed. If kids don’t feel like they belong, that they’re part of something, then the engagement suffers. “We place a huge value on sport and art because through these you learn character. You learn to interact in competitive and social environments – training hard, getting up early – being accountable to others and mixing with different groups of people. Whether they play summer or winter sport, do drama or are in the choir - the more varied experiences our kids can have, the better it is for them. “We help each individual student find somewhere they belong, and where they can win. It’s key that each kid gets a chance to win somewhere at school. Not everybody will be in the 1st XV in rugby – robotics might be their thing or being in the choir – as long as they have a place where they can win,” he says. Learning te reo is strong and the school is introducing

8 February 2021

Feilding High School's shearing competition underway.

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a more extensive te ao Māori course next year. They are working with local iwi, Ngāti Kauwhata, who are very keen to be involved and share their story to ensure integrity is maintained. Students will go to their marae to do aspects of the course. Nathan would prefer to see less rhetoric about the lack of achievement for Māori and Pacific students and more focus on those who are achieving.

“Academically he is outstanding, has a huge work ethic and is utterly reliable,” says Nathan. “Our students are resilient, resourceful, can solve problems and come together and just work. We’re blessed with a great mix of town and country and when both come together it’s a very special blend of ‘what can’t we do?’.”

Māori success

A great example of the community’s resilience and wairua was their support for each other during and after the Level 4 lockdown. Nathan is hugely proud of the students’ achievements and the way they and staff worked during lockdown. Some students worked on family farms and some full-time at the local supermarket to keep people fed and watered, but they did all this and still balanced their class work. Nathan is grateful for the wider Feilding community. “When we have difficult times, this community comes together with amazing belief, resilience and care. Everyone is willing to help.” Post-lockdown, there were concerns for those students whose parents had lost work, so one of the board members, John Turkington, started paying for lunches. “Every few days he would turn up with bags of groceries; the food was not just for our vulnerable kids but anyone who wanted lunch. John was very deliberate in getting what the kids needed and he and his wife Angela kept turning up with more groceries every few days. It’s just what they do – and that’s the type of community we have here.” When the board started bringing in food, the Student Council decided to get involved – they prepared the food and served it. “It’s not just a job for people here – we’re all about community inside and outside the school gate – what happens outside the classroom matters as well – that’s where you develop the whole person, it’s not just sitting in a row in a classroom. “That’s why attendance post-Covid has been stable; students have stayed connected to school.”

Last year, the head boy, head girl and dux, Hannah Grace were all Māori. “She (Hannah) was in tears when her dad popped in because she also won the Burge Family Cup for outstanding contribution to upholding the values of Feilding High School. Hannah has a real heart for caring for others and is a wonderful role model.” Head boy Jonty Stewart, Whakatōhea, was captain of the 1st XV and gained a rugby scholarship to Hawke’s Bay. He’s also an excellence-level student.

“We’re all about community inside and outside the school gate – what happens outside the classroom matters as well – that’s where you develop the whole person; it’s not just sitting in a row in a classroom.” Nathan Stewart

Community response to Covid-19

Sustainable model

The challenges for Nathan and his team are maintaining the change of pace and the opportunities that are available. “It all works on the quality of the people you have. It’s about creating a model that’s sustainable and continuing to find great people to be part of your team. “We have been deliberate in targeting teaching heroes that will make sure our kids get a good deal. We’re in the business of people, so hiring the right people is the most important thing we can do. “Our people are willing to be on the turf at 6am or to spend Friday nights in Palmerston North so students can get to and from sports activities. Our sevens coach will drive to Auckland so the girls can attend a tournament. He has four daughters but still gives up his own time for our kids.”


Education Gazette

People such as the sevens coach help make activities accessible for students and Nathan praises the coach, who on one occasion saved parents money by staying in the bach of a past pupil. “They all got up at 5am and drove to Auckland, played and drove back to Taupo and stayed in the bach overnight before driving back to Feilding on Sunday. The trip was free for everyone involved. “It’s that continual generosity to try and break down barriers so all kids have an opportunity to do well and succeed. We do have families and whānau that sometimes need support, but we encourage all kids to be what they would love to be. “It’s giving everyone a chance to achieve - that’s our challenge as a community – to give people opportunities. It’s hard and it’s our job to manage that – some kids deal with things that are outside their control and it’s our responsibility to make sure they have the same opportunities to succeed as everyone.”

100 years of community

Nathan is most proud of the journey the school has been on, and increasingly providing better and better opportunities for their kids. This year the school will celebrate its centenary, which is being organised by an active Old Pupils Association. People are already registering, he says. “We have to keep serving the kids as best we can because for them in a small town, they bump into each other all the time. Everyone in our community is effectively our neighbour so we all have a stake in making sure the school functions really well for our kids.” Nathan explains that this adds to the level of care and commitment because, as the town’s largest, the school is fundamental to the future of the town. It has 1500–1600 learners, 150 staff, three separate entities with the two farms, a hostel, and the wider school – and it’s the only high school in Feilding. There’s a lot of sharing to make sure the barriers for all kids are set as low as possible: their hockey turf and netball courts are community assets as they’re the only ones in town. “We also have huge parent support for things like transport and coaching. It’s a special place and we have a huge duty of care to our kids because we’re ‘it’. A good school means that builders have a job, plumbers have a job, the town is growing because it makes it attractive for someone to live and raise their children here, so even at that level it’s important that our school continues to do well for its community. Otherwise the town would get bypassed. “It’s a lot of pressure but our board just gives and gives and gives. For a voluntary role, it’s phenomenal how many hours they spend here to make sure the school flourishes. And that’s supporting staff and the kids,” says Nathan.

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Country school at heart of community A small country school in south Wairarapa is riding high on the shoulders of its committed community.


hen Gene Moore saw the principal’s job at Pirinoa School advertised, he hopped on his motorbike to go and check out the school and rode past, missing it completely.  A one-time barber, policeman and teacher, Gene attended a small rural school and remembers his school days at Mangaroa School, just outside Upper Hutt, as the best time of his life. “I’ve always had a calling to country schools because it was just such a formative time in my life. I was in a class with my brother and sister; my little brother was in the next class. “The funny thing about that school is it was just out in the middle of the paddocks – there was no community around it. The culture of the school was family – this is very much part of my vision for this school,” says Gene, who became principal of Pirinoa School in 2020. The south Wairarapa school is just 15 minutes from the North Island’s southern coast and is surrounded by heartland farming country. The first school opened its doors to 23 pupils in 1887 and since then has educated generations of children from Ngāti Kahungunu and Rangitane whānau and European settlers’ families.

Country kids

There are four Year 8 tamariki and three Year 7 tamariki in Room 3: the Year 5-8 class. Romy (Year 7) and Aria (Year 8) say this means everybody gets a turn to be a leader. Romy is as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as they come. He’s come to Pirinoa School from Pinehaven School over the hill in Upper Hutt. “Pinehaven is a big school – about 10 classrooms. This school obviously has three classrooms which is a BIG difference! It’s very nice because everyone knows everyone. It was very different at first.  “I like how it’s very community-like and we get so many opportunities to do things. We had those opportunities, but not so much at some schools because there are so many kids. Sometimes we would audition for something like kapa haka and not get in. In the production me and Aria had the biggest roles,” he says.


Education Gazette

The whole school turned out for this photo at the entrance of Pirinoa School.

3 May 2021

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"I tell them, ‘You don’t have to be anything here other than yourself; you be who you are and the kids will like you for who you are’.” Gene Moore

Left: Principal Gene Moore is optimistic about the future of his school. Right: Romy and Aria are two senior pupils who welcome the leadership opportunities provided at a small school.

Aria has been at Pirinoa School since she was five. (By the time Gazette went to print, Aria had started at Kuranui College in Greytown.) “It’s a good school because everyone is friendly with everyone and everyone knows everyone and we are quite close to each other.   “This school has not many kids in a class. You get more one on one with a teacher. You don’t have to work on the exact same things as the other students. If you’re at a higher level, you can work at that level. That’s what’s good about being in different age groups,” she says. Gene says that children who come from other schools quickly become country kids. “They relax. I tell them, ‘You don’t have to be anything here other than yourself; you be who you are and the kids will like you for who you are’,” he says.

Community support

When the fish factory at the nearby coastal fishing village of Ngawi closed, the school’s roll dropped from about 90 pupils. The challenge for a school like Pirinoa,


Education Gazette

with a roll of 44 in December 2020, is sustainability.  But this little school has two things in its favour:  incredible community support and a principal with a plan. Angela Aburn married into a long-time farming family – her two sons, husband and mother-in-law all attended Pirinoa School. She began working at the school in 2004 as a teacher aide and since then has supported individual children with learning support needs, as well as working alongside classroom teachers to support children. “There’s a strong sense of community – without our community, there would be no school,” she says. As well as working bees, this support has included Reading Grannies, a 90-year-old who helped students with maths and a parent who was a member of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and helped out with music at the school, she says. A large local farm business, Palliser Ridge, is a great supporter of the school, providing money for prizes, funding wetland planting and encouraging its many workers to send their children to the school.

Optimistic about future

Gene is optimistic about the future of the area and thinks the school’s potential is untapped. “I think the Wairarapa is going to grow hugely and it’s going to reach out to places like here. We could do nothing and the roll would still grow. It’s that migration away from the cities and people are discovering the lifestyle and how much you can get for your money. “We have a couple of families who have moved from Wellington, they’re involved in businesses around here and they just love it,” he says. Gene has a plan to further grow numbers and the school has bought a van. This will be helpful for school trips, but he’s also exploring offering a school bus route for tamariki in the neighbourhood who are not on a designated bus route.

3 May 2021

“Because we do have such a nice environment and because we have the smaller classes, we might be able to attract more children. All it takes is for one or two families to come out this way and then people just vote with their feet. Distance is an issue but we can certainly make it a more attractive option by putting on some sort of transport,” he says.

For an extended interview about Pirinoa School and its history, read this story at Education Gazette online, or scan this QR code.

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Top: Matua Hēnare helps Pukeatua School students, Bradley-James and Reihana, discover new ways of working with digital technologies. Bottom: Pukeatua School teacher Joseph Moeke and students, Ariki and Te Rangitāne, experiment with green screen digital technology.


Bringing the curriculum to life Education Gazette explores the importance of putting learner identity and curriculum integration at the heart of digital technologies learning.


ahinarangi is making a clapmotion movie of a toy cow crossing a road. The Year 5 student giggles as she watches her movie playback, seeing the cow roll over halfway before returning to her feet and continuing her path. Beside her, Reihana and BJ, both Year 8, are working on a scratch project, while Precious (Year 8), Ryah (Year 6) and Galaxie (Year 7) are performing a Renegade TikTok on a beach in Hawaii, with the help of an iPad and a green screen. Meanwhile, Ronnie and Potatau (Year 6) are concentrating on creating a course for Dashbots. The students are from a Māori immersion class at Pukeatua School (Lower Hutt) and are the last class for 2020 to visit Te Papa’s Learning Lab Hīnātore to participate in Raranga Matihiko. The programme is delivered as part of the Ministry of Education’s Digital Technologies for All Equity Fund, which supports the introduction of new digital technologies learning for all schools and kura across Aotearoa. “My favourite activities are the clapmotion and the green screen,” says Ronnie. “I like creating things. It’s cool making your own stuff for people to use.” Next up, the students don virtual reality googles to enter a virtual wharenui where they see the panels that they made the day before. Exclamations of “Cool!” and “Awesome!” pepper the room as they see their creations come to virtual life.

Tailored to class needs

Being a creator of digital technology, not just a user, is a core part of the technology learning area of The New Zealand Curriculum. As well as gaining an understanding of computer science concepts, students learn how to

8 February 2021

design quality digital solutions. Under Te Marautanga o Aotearoa, ākonga use te reo Māori to express problems and formulate solutions, and design and develop digital outcomes. To bring digital technologies and hangarau matihiko curriculum content to life, each Raranga Matihiko programme is tailored to the needs of that class. The facilitators co-design the programme with the teacher, looking at what the class’s inquiry topic is and how they can weave in the technology learning area. “Curriculum integration and local curriculum are key parts of what we do,” explains Tara Fagan, who heads up Raranga Matihiko. “One of the things we really wanted to do when we set out to do this programme was highlight how digital tech shouldn’t be taught in isolation.”

Language, culture and identity

The programme is also about reflecting children’s language, culture and identity in their learning, says facilitator Sam Hēnare. He shares an experience that highlights the importance of this. A recent programme participant was showing no interest in any of the activities. In an effort to engage her, Sam asked her about her whānau and where she was from. It transpired that her mum had died when she was younger and she didn’t know her dad. All she knew was that she was from Taranaki. So Sam took the student, along with one of her friends and a kaiako, to Rongomaraeroa, the museum’s marae for every iwi, not just iwi Māori but also iwi Pākehā and tauiwi. “We took her to the pou whakairo relating to Taranaki. I said to her, ‘I don’t know if they are your tūpuna or not

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“These are our future doctors, lawyers, prime ministers. To approach their learning from a Māori perspective allows them to be true to their identity.” Joseph Moeke

Tamariki from Pukeatua School engage in a range of digital technologies in the Raranga Matihiko programme.


Education Gazette

but these are people who were from Taranaki – you will have some relationship in your history to these people, somewhere’. You could just see the tears in her eyes. It was amazing. “We don’t normally like people taking photos of whakairo but I said, ‘This is a relative of yours, so we’ll take a photo of it and bring it back to the class and we’ll see what we can do with it’.” The photo formed the basis of the next activity involving digital technology tools. “It’s important to have our tamariki, especially our tamariki Māori, find reconnections – that’s some of the most important work that we do. The digital technology can be a tool to help assist that. Ideally, we want her to forge a better connection to her iwi, but if the museum and this learning can be the conduit for that, then it has potential to change her outlook on life, her outlook for learning,” explains Sam. Kaiako Joseph Moeke, or Pāpā Jo as the tamariki at Pukeatua School call him, says it is important for the students to incorporate digital technologies across all aspects of their learning in a way that reflects who they are. “These are our future doctors, lawyers, prime ministers. To approach their learning from a Māori perspective allows them to be true to their identity,” he says. Read more about Raranga Matihiko in Issue 11, 2020: Weaving digital futures.

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A special centenary cover


he dual covers of this special issue of Education Gazette provide a small example of the way new and emerging digital technologies can be used as learning tools to explore other parts of the curriculum. By using the augmented reality (AR) features, teachers and students can get a glimpse into the last 100 years of New Zealand education, using it as a springboard to further explore our history. The AR experience also provides teachers and students with an opportunity to think about the future of education as technologist Dr Michelle Dickinson – aka Nanogirl – offers her thoughts on the role of digital technology in children’s learning.

To see the full interview with Michelle, visit Education Gazette online.

The cover shoot in progress, featuring students from Newlands Intermediate and Dr Michelle Dickinson (also known as Nanogirl).


Education Gazette

Education Gazette | Blue Star technology grants


lue Star has been involved with the production of Education Gazette for many years and is proud to support the Gazette’s centenary celebrations, offering $10,000 in grants to support digital technology learning in schools.

About the grants

The Education Gazette | Blue Star technology fund totals $10,000. We will offer four awards of $2500: two to support hangarau matihiko in te reo Māori medium education, and two to support the digital technology teaching in English medium. Schools and kura have the chance to win one of the four funds when they submit a portfolio of a module of their digital technologies and hangarau matihiko teaching. The funds are to be spent on technology by the school or kura to help further enhance their programme.

of an example of the DT | HM learning happening at their school or kura. Entries are to be emailed to, before the deadline of 11.59pm, 3 May 2021. The four grant recipients – two hangarau matihiko in te reo Māori medium education and two digital technology teaching in English medium – will be selected randomly from the entries. By entering, schools and kura agree to sharing their DT | HM learning experiences for possible inclusion in a future edition of the Education Gazette. For more information, please visit education-gazette-blue-star-technology-grants.

How to enter

Teachers or schools and kura can simply email photos and/or a video, and a short write-up (maximum 500 words)

8 February 2021

Tukutuku Kōrero


Former and current Mount Cook School principals, Sandra McCallum and Lliam Carran with the school’s foundation stone.


Education Gazette


Inner city schools have rich cultural heritage Two Wellington schools in suburbs named after Queen Victoria and James Cook have been cultural melting pots for many decades.


ount Victoria and Mount Cook hug the city on its south and eastern flanks. Clyde Quay School (Mt Victoria/Matairangi) and Mt Cook School were amongst Wellington’s earliest schools, alongside Te Aro School, Karori Normal School and Newtown School. From at least the 1960s, both inner-city schools were culturally diverse, with Greek and Chinese families settling in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Early history of diversity

Chinese settlement in Haining and Frederick Streets near Mt Cook School began in the latter half of the 19th century and it’s not hard to imagine that there was cultural diversity at the school from its earliest years. Sandra McCallum was principal from 2004 to 2018 and says she felt privileged to be part of a culture of inclusion and celebration of diversity. “This culture had been developing over the previous 10 years and over time had come to be the school’s kaupapa. “The school has always been really diverse. The school had had former refugees for over 40 years – Vietnamese and Cambodian to begin with, followed by families from Africa and the Middle East, and over time other countries,” she says.

Celebrating identity

Sandra says people used to say “Mt Cook School does such a great job of integration” and she would disagree. “I would say, ‘The words are inclusion and celebration, not assimilation and integration. Identity is what we talked about – who are we, what is important to us, what do we have in common and what are our differences?’” The school’s values and culture continuously evolved and Sandra says there was a key focus on relationships. “We wanted to make everybody feel welcome and valued from the timethey walked into the school,” she says. Sandra met with each community with interpreters to ensure she understood what parents wanted for their tamariki. The school also made a big effort to have school reports translated into the first language of their children. “They wanted their kids to be happy, to be really nice human beings, to be respectful and tolerant, to have friends across communities and they wanted their kids to be loved,” says Sandra.

Collaboration and commitment

When a new curriculum was introduced in the early 2000s, there was a lot of consultation with the school’s various communities.

“All of our teaching is done through the lens of understanding that there is a continuum of English language learning at our school.” Lliam Carran

18 October 2021

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The school’s vision, values and professional development was a collaboration, with decisions made as a collective, which led to a strong sense of community and commitment to the school as a whole, explains Sandra. “Teachers did not feel as though they had to manage alone in their classes. Each week at staff meeting, there was an opportunity for teachers to discuss how things were going and access the collective wisdom of their colleagues,” she says. Diana Woods recently retired as ESOL teacher at the school after 27 years and was a strong advocate for her ākonga. Along with their colleagues, she and Sandra shared the belief that every child has the right to a quality education and brings richness and potential that can be celebrated and nurtured from the day they are enrolled. “We learned to take time and observe each tamariki as she/he started school. We had ongoing conversations at every staff meeting about what we were noticing. It was deliberate: watch, see and decide. Sometimes it was over quite a long period of time before we got to know what was appropriate for the individual. “Every culture has a lens through which it views the world. We listened to the kōrero of our communities and through this, worked tirelessly to nurture an environment in which everyone had a voice, felt valued and able to contribute,” explains Sandra.

Continuum of language learning

Today, about 50 percent of Mt Cook School’s tamariki, from 40 different ethnic groups, speak a different language at home, says principal Lliam Carran. “All of our teaching is done through the lens of understanding that there is a continuum of English language learning at our school. “We do a lot of play at school up until Year 3 and that’s to do with promoting oral language, so it’s about children talking with children, and teachers and adults sitting down and listening and talking. It definitely makes a difference for our ESOL children, having that time to talk and listen to a group.”

Celebrating difference

There’s a strong bond between Huyen and Nhung, former ESOL students at Mt Cook School.


Education Gazette

Lliam says that with so many different ethnic and cultural groups, many children and their families don’t have any connections with each other and the school works hard to build connections and community. “We spend a lot of time talking about our Mt Cook community and we work really hard to connect our families with events because they often don’t have an understanding of each other. We talk about how our differences are to be

celebrated and they make it a nice, exciting, interesting place to be.” Lliam believes this approach creates empathetic young people. “We have students come through the school who are incredibly empathetic because they’ve spent their whole time working with others who are different from them, and understanding that other child’s context. So you can see how empathetic they are around other children, and how they have a real sense of the normalcy of people being different from them, and of that being interesting. “I’ve been at Mt Cook for 14 years – I began teaching here. For me, it’s about the meaningful connections with children and seeing them come back to school from

college, or years later and being amazed where they’ve got to. It’s quite incredible, we have children come into school quite regularly to reconnect. We know how difficult, or hard it was at one point for them,” he says.

For the future

While teaching pedagogy may change in the future, Lliam believes that children will always need the same things. “I think an element of it will always be the same and being a part of community and children spending time and working together, always needs to be there. If that ever changed, I think that we would lose something essential to the development of our children.”

Former students share fond memories Nhung and Huyen, former students at Mt Cook School, are both from Vietnam. Now at Wellington High School and Wellington East Girls’ College, respectively, the connection through their shared ESOL journey means their bond is still strong. What do you remember from your first weeks at Mt Cook School? “People were very inclusive. The kids would always try to communicate and hang out with each other, and the teachers were very nice and supportive,” says Huyen. Nhung agrees. “It was really inclusive and nice. It was an easy environment to get used to because everyone’s different and it’s just really welcoming because no one judges you.” What were the best parts of being at Mt Cook School? “Definitely spending a lot of time with friends – no one judged you or told you what to do. The teachers really supported you,” says Huyen. Nhung explains further, saying teachers never put too much pressure on them to learn things. “They didn’t push you but really let you take your time in learning and now, at high school, you don’t get so stressed. Not that you shouldn’t do your work, but yeah, there’s not so much pressure.” Speaking about Diana Woods, Nhung says she was a great ESOL teacher. “Like, I’ve only been with her for one year, but she taught me a lot of stuff and the lessons were always fun. You always have this excitement every time you walk into her class.” Huyen adds that Diana could always understand them. “It was very calm, and when I first came, she was so nice.

18 October 2021

She is hard to understand sometimes, and sometimes I don’t even understand myself, but when I talked she would understand me and know what I am taking about.” How has Mt Cook School helped you become the person you are today? Nhung says one of the best things about learning with Diana is how she helped them express themselves. “So when you go on to, like, high school, the lessons she gave you help you communicate with people and, get to know them and so you feel more comfortable around all of them.” They both talk about how good it was to be part of such a culturally diverse school. “You know more about people around you, the culture, what they do and stuff,” says Huyen. Nhung agrees. “At a multicultural school, one person can teach you something, and you can teach them something back. It’s a learning experience. And it’s easier to learn things through communication.” Many of the former ESOL students are still good friends, even at different high schools. “[ESOL] is how we met our group. It’s really cool and we still talk and hang out,” says Nhung. Principal Lliam adds to the kōrero around lifelong friendship. “You see those groups that were working with Diane in the ESOL room and how tight they become. It’s really lovely how close that bond is. They don’t all speak the same language but it’s such a connection through that learning.”

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Difference is the norm at Clyde Quay School Eleni Hilder (nee Giannoulis) attended Clyde Quay School in the early 1970s, when many Greek families moved from Newtown to Mount Victoria to live near the Greek Orthodox Church in Hania Street (Lloyd Street). She remembers a strong sense of community and says that many of her friends were Greek as they lived in the same neighbourhood and spent a lot of time with each other after school, at weekends and in the holidays. “I didn’t feel any pressure to fit in as a Kiwi kid, there was no bullying. I felt supported knowing there were other Greek children speaking my language and knowing my culture. “To me, some of the other Greek kids were like family. Older kids would walk us home, and when I was older, I would walk younger kids home. Mums would rely on the older Greek girls in the neighbourhood to take the younger ones home after school,” she explains. Eleni and her friends attended Greek School after school in a classroom at Clyde Quay School, and parents attended classes there at night. “The school was a bit of a hub – they would meet other Greek mothers who were relying on one another to get the kids from A to B because they were all working. During school holidays, the mothers that were at home would look after the kids – there was that sense of community,” she says.

Te ao Māori part and parcel of school

The Education Gazette’s Eleni Hilder is a former pupil of Clyde Quay School.


Education Gazette

Pākehā children are now in the minority at Clyde Quay School, with at least one third of children being rich in their own language, culture and identity, says principal, Liz Patara (Te Arawa, Ngāti Ueunukukopako, Ngāti Whakaue). The school has become more culturally and ethnically diverse since Liz arrived as principal in 1999 and she says it’s the reason she has stayed at the school. From the start, she was also very impressed that every teacher was comfortable with teaching basic te reo Māori me ōna tikanga (language and customs).   “At that time, that wasn’t common in Wellington schools where Māori children were the minority. Here, there was little resistance to tangata whenua aspirations; in fact, the community expected it. “Their language, identity, culture was foregrounded in school and every teacher was willing to have basic knowledge and proficiency in te reo Māori. It was a given

that te ao Māori was going to be part of the culture of the school,” she explains.   Liz says that te ao Māori is very much part and parcel of the school fabric.   “For migrant children who might have a second or third language, I don’t think they see learning Māori as strange. In fact, they take it on board very easily, as another language, another culture,” she says.  “It’s important they have some knowledge of Māori because that’s who we are as Aotearoa New Zealanders. We can’t go anywhere else for our culture, reo and identity – this is it. It’s rightfully part of being a citizen of Aotearoa NZ. “The Treaty of Waitangi is about participation, protection and partnership. It’s a right for Māori and tauiwi [non-Māori], so it should be part of who we are and what we do in our schools.”

“I really like learning different languages becausethere are so many ways other people see the world.” Sopho

Diversity a strength

The cumulative effect of offering tamariki a diverse range of experiences normalises difference, argues Liz. “When you add all these components together – hearing different languages, seeing different-looking people, knowing we are different in multiple ways, and you celebrate festivals important to respective whānau, it strengthens the notion of difference as normal.  “One of my tests is, ‘how comfortable are the kids from different cultural groups, speaking to their friends from the same culture in their mother tongue at school?’ That has grown stronger here. So, if a new Polish child arrives, and we have other Polish children in the school – we’ll buddy them up. We’ve done this a lot to help make new children feel comfortable and settle into our kura.”   Liz believes a combination of all those aspects of diversity creates an environment that strengthens the culture of the school.  “Our tamariki don’t think it’s unusual that I get up in assembly and speak Māori or greet them in several different languages. It teaches them that it’s okay to speak a different language and it’s not unusual that you hear this in our school.”

18 October 2021

Yashi says learning different languages means you can understand and help people.

Student kōrero

Education Gazette asked tamariki at Clyde Quay School what they enjoyed about learning different languages and being surrounded by cultural diversity. “You can communicate to your friends. Say I speak Spanish and my friend speaks Indonesian. If I learn Indonesian, we can speak to them fluently and they will understand as well. The diversity is just very cool we can celebrate different cultures as well.” Varun, Year 5, Indian-Telegu “I like learning languages, because you can learn different things from them, and if you can understand other people, you can help them.” Yashi, Year 4, Chinese “Learning languages is really good to go to different countries and understand them. I also like celebrating cultures. In my culture, we celebrate Diwali and people always say that it’s fun and it brings me really good vibes.” Saadhana, Year 4, Indian-Tamil “I like learning different languages because they’re so diverse and we can communicate more effectively with others. I have learned Greek and te reo Māori. I really enjoyed learning the mythology and stories like that.” Barnaby, Year 6, Pākehā New Zealander “I like learning other languages because you can help people, and you can communicate with more people like in your class.” Alexia, Year 4, Samoan

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“I really like learning different languages because there are so many ways other people see the world. Sometimes in different languages, there’ll be different ways of saying things instead of just different words. Being at this school is cool because you get to know everybody, and you don’t just know about you.” Sopho, Year 8, Greek/Māori “All my friends speak different languages. I have a teacher helping me learn Hindi, and when I turn seven and eight, we learn, like, Mandarin and French. And here we are also learning Māori. Diversity is great because you can learn how others speak, and you can then communicate with them.” Akshara, Year 5, Indian-Tamil “Languages are important, because I come from China and my English is more good from being here. I have learned English, French and Māori.” Chenxi, Year 7, Chinese “What I love about this school and languages is that it’s so diverse. At this school it’s really cool because you get the opportunity to learn about so many different cultures, about so many different people. It’s cool to learn different things, especially if you’re going to live in different countries.” Charlotte, Year 5, Māori

Saadhana likes sharing her culture with her peers, especially for celebrations like Diwali.

“What I like about learning different languages is that it’s all new to you – even just using some simple sentences like ‘hello’ or ‘how are you?’. It’s really cool to learn how to say that to people. If I had to choose one thing about learning cultures, it would definitely be what they eat in a day.” Isabel, Year 6, Indonesian American “It takes us to another world when we learn other languages, and it’s quite comforting what people have here – as if they’re from the family.” Holly, Year 4, Irish

Read this article online to learn more about the histories of Mt Cook and Clyde Quay schools.

“It’s important they have some knowledge of Māori because that’s who we are as Aotearoa New Zealand.” Liz Patara

Barnaby has learned Greek and te reo Māori.


Education Gazette

Tamariki with principal Liz Patara. Construction of the new Clyde Quay School building in Mt Victoria, Wellington (1935). Evening Post (newspaper. 1865-2002): Photographic negatives and prints of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: PAColl-7796-86. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22841385

18 October 2021

Tukutuku Kōrero


Miss Dolly Edwards with her Primer 2 class children and their new educational toys at Karori School in Wellington in 1916. Miss Edwards was known for 128 Education Gazette introducing 'modern methods' into the infant classroom. (Ref: ATL 159173 1/2).


A mat for all to stand on In the second of a two-part series on the history of early childcare and education in Aotearoa, Emeritus Professor Helen May shares with Education Gazette the origins and development of Te Whāriki and how its principles align with ideas voiced by policy makers and educationalists over a century ago.


fter decades of advocacy, early childhood emerged in the 1980s as a key policy area for government. A flurry of reports, including Education to be More (1988) (referred to as the Meade Report) and Before Five (1988), provided a philosophical rationale for increased government support and a blueprint for a more equitable playing field across the early childhood sector. The Government’s strategic plan Pathways to the Future 2002-2012 continued later progress. “Most significant was the recognition of the early childhood diploma/degree as the benchmark qualification for the sector and the plan to deliver 100 percent qualified teachers in teacher-led services. “In 2007, 20 hours’ free early childhood education was also introduced for all three- and four-year-olds; both initiatives were accompanied by significant funding increases,” says Helen.

Te Whāriki

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the introduction of Curriculum Framework (1990), the Government initiated the idea of an early childhood curriculum. The idea was not welcomed initially by early childhood organisations such as Playcentre, kindergarten and kōhanga reo; they were concerned that their distinctive pedagogies might be undermined and that the school curriculum might be pushed into the early years. This prompted Helen and her colleague Margaret Carr at the University of Waikato to bid for the contract to develop an early childhood curriculum. “We gathered an amazing team of expertise from across the sector, to the extent we were the only bidder. This was a political lesson in unity,” says Helen. “We had been doing interesting things at Waikato when we established our integrated diploma/degree in 1990. Instead of adapting the old kindergarten programme and adding in some childcare, we reimagined what early childhood teacher education could be. “We shifted the focus on ‘ages and stages’; treating the play activities as subjects alongside ‘easy’ versions of the school subjects, to more complex understandings

3 May 2021

of learning with children’s interests and strengths at the centre. These ideas we took into the curriculum project.” Working with Margaret Carr, Dr Tamati and Mrs Tilly Reedy, Helen was the co-director of the Early Childhood Curriculum Project (1991-2) that became Te Whāriki and was released as a draft to centres in 1993. Helen and Margaret formed a partnership with Te Kōhanga Reo Trust and their proposal to the Ministry of Education was to construct a bicultural framework.

Bicultural framework

“This was new territory for the Ministry in terms of curriculum development and it took considerable negotiation that there would be one document that could be ‘read’ from different perspectives,” says Helen. The curriculum project’s working group included representatives from the newly formed Pacific Islands Early Childhood Association and people with expertise in homebased early childhood, children with specials needs, infants and toddlers, as well as mainstream preschool services. Together, the group agreed on four overall principles and were gifted the five domains of mana along with the Te Whāriki name from the Māori working group. This became the Te Whāriki framework as a ‘mat for all to stand on’ with many woven patterns. “There was wide consultation with teachers and across early childhood sector groups, who soon saw how they could ‘weave’ their distinctive pedagogy and philosophy within principles, strands and goals of Te Whāriki.” Helen says this built a degree of trust that the new curriculum would not undermine the different services. “However, there was no naming of pre-school activities, areas of play and equipment lists, which had been the focus of kindergarten and Playcentre in particular. Rather, the curriculum whāriki, underpinned by the principle of empowerment, was about ‘responsive reciprocal relationships with people, places and things’. “Over time, teachers have risen to the challenge of a curriculum that does not tell you what to do, but rather challenges you to engage with children and their whānau weaving a curriculum together.

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From the Department of Education’s new ‘discovery approach’ to arithmetic in ‘Number work in the Infant Room’ (1943).

“Te Whāriki has become the heartbeat of early childhood in New Zealand and been a catalyst in creating a genuine early childhood movement in New Zealand,” says Helen.

Connecting curriculum

The 1993 draft of Te Whāriki detailed the connections with the NZ Curriculum Framework (1990) and elaborated how each principle, strand and goal might be realised in a junior school setting. “Unfortunately,” says Helen, “schools never received copies of Te Whāriki and so the connections languished until the 2007 redrafting of the NZ Curriculum Framework, which defined five key learning competencies parallel to the five domains of mana in Te Whāriki.” There was research undertaken demonstrating how the framework’s key competencies and the learning dispositions of Te Whāriki could be made visible across both settings. “However, the introduction of National Standards in 2010 and their focus on the assessment of the 3R’s undermined these links, causing many centres to focus on preparing children for their school assessments rather than schools preparing for the children as they arrived,” says Helen. The links between early childhood and school curriculums were made more explicit in the 2017 refresh of Te Whāriki. And in 2018, after the removal of National


Education Gazette

Standards, NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Ministry of Education co-hosted a series of conferences celebrating curriculum and the respective curriculum documents, encouraging teachers in schools and early childhood to reimagine their classrooms and centres in these new times. Helen’s presentation was titled ‘Taking Te Whāriki to school – Let’s do this now’. “I fielded a number of enquiries from junior class teachers wanting articles and research to convince their colleagues that more playful learning in the juniors would not undermine the teaching of the 3R’s. Quite the reverse. “It does, however, sadden me when I hear of schools purchasing ‘discovery’ packages from elsewhere when we already have Te Whariki.” As a judge for the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards in 2019, Helen visited Waimairi School in Christchurch to view a junior school programme embedded in Te Whāriki. The school was an award finalist. “Not only was their ‘permission to play’ freely and purposefully expressed in the juniors, the senior classes also had blocks, dressing-ups and junk construction areas. This was the kind of classroom I had experienced in the 1960s-70s which I thought had been lost – but was now being rediscovered in new ways and for new times.” Prior to her academic studies, Helen worked as a junior class teacher of mainly five-year-olds for nine years in the 1960s and 1970s, leading an all-day play-based programme.

Permission to play – the historical context

During the early 20th century, waves of so called ‘new education’ ideas promoting playful and activity-based approaches to learning swept through the education system. When George Hogben was appointed Inspector General in 1889, he set about reforming the primary school curriculum, urging inspectors and teachers that: “The important thing ... is not the amount of things that are taught, but the spirit, character, and method of teaching in relation to its purpose of developing the child’s powers… We must believe with Froebel and others of the most enlightened of the world’s educators, that the child will learn best, not so much by reading about things in books as by doing: that is exercising his natural activities by making things, by observing and testing things for himself; and then afterwards by reasoning about them and expressing thoughts about them.” “This statement resonates 120 years later, but some teachers still find such approaches a challenge,” says Helen. There were many who did experiment, such as teachers at Kelburn Normal School in Wellington, Wellesley St Normal School in Auckland and the Wanganui Central Infant School, where Montessori activities were introduced and formal desks abandoned. This was encouraged by the Department of Education. “Kindergartens were less interested in Montessori but they did use the apparatus, and were still at the forefront of some of the progressive ideas.” says Helen. She gives the example of Phillipstown Kindergarten, with the first open-air kindergarten in 1923 before the more famous 1924 open-air classrooms at Fendalton School in Christchurch.

Revolution in infant room

The appointment of CE Beeby as the Director General of Education in 1939 hastened the adoption of play-based learning. Political approval was made clear by the Minister of Education, Rt. Hon. HGR Mason, at the 1944 wartime education conference: “Nothing short of a revolution has taken place in the infant room over the past 20 years. It has my full support. We must agree that for all in the infant room, the learning of formal intellectual skills is of secondary importance. What is of supreme importance is that the young child should be healthy and happy. That he should learn to work and play with other children and his mind should be kept lively and eager and full of wonder.” “This is my favourite statement from a Minister of Education,” says Helen. Infant classrooms were expected to have at least an hour of developmental play every morning. In 1949, as the new era in playful schooling got underway, the Department of Education set about convincing parents with the film The first years of school produced by the National Film Unit, with music composed by Douglas Lilburn and played by the new National Orchestra. “While there was an element of propaganda in the film, it did represent a ’revolution’ in thinking about education pedagogy showing how the traditional 3R’s could be taught within a programme of free play, discovery and conversation,” says Helen.

3 May 2021

The launch of Te Whāriki in 1996 at the Beehive. Mrs Iole Tagoilolagi, who co-ordinated the Pacifica strands, is speaking. Standing by is now-Dame Iritane Tawhiwhirangi, Professor Helen May and Professor Margaret Carr. Originally published in Education Gazette.

“Over time, teachers have risen to the challenge of a curriculum that does not tell you what to do, but rather challenges you to engage with children and their whānau weaving a curriculum together.” Professor Helen May

Writers of the original Te Whāriki. Professor Helen May, Lady Tilly Reedy, Professor Sir Tamati Reedy and Professor Margaret Carr. Photo taken in 2016 when they were advisors to the refresh of Te Whāriki.

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A long morning at play for children in the J1 classroom of Helen May (then Helen Cook) at Brooklyn School, Wellington, 1974.

“Sadly, not all teachers felt able to follow script and the recorded memories of children from this era do not always tally with the official view that a ‘revolution’ had occurred.” There was a similar ‘revolution’ underway across the kindergarten movement. Periods of free play had long been included, but were tightly timetabled.

Helen says there is still more work needed to achieve real equity for children and teachers across the sectors and early childhood services. “He Taonga te tamaiti – Early learning action plan 2019-2029 agreed between government and the early childhood sector, if fully implemented, would address much of this.”

Full circle

References: Helen May, ‘I am five and I go to School’, Early years schooling in NZ 1900-2010, I (Otago University Press, 2011); Discovery of Early Childhood (2nd edition) (NZCER Press, 2013); Politics in the Playground: The world of early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand (3rd edition), (Otago University Press, 2019)

In 1948, Beeby appointed Infant Advisor Miss Moira Gallagher as the first Preschool Officer in the Department of Education. She visited every kindergarten, encouraging them to let go of their structured routines. Joyce Barns, a teacher at the Kelsey Yarella Kindergarten in Dunedin recalled the visit: “She said, ‘Let the children be free’. I talked it over with the girls I was working with and we let the children free because it was more natural. We didn’t have a timetable anymore, we let them do what they wanted to. We let the big boys go outside. You could see them sitting on the mat bored to tears, bored, absolutely bored. They played outside nearly all morning – and the difference in them! We even let them go to the toilet when they wanted to!” (Interview with Helen May, 1994) “So, we have come full circle as these were the influences on me as a young teacher in the 1960s-70s,” reflects Helen. “A school inspector once wondered whether my university studies would be wasted if I intended working in junior classes. Fortunately, attitudes have mainly changed!”


Education Gazette

The first part of this article was published in Volume 100 Issue 1 of the Education Gazette, The many threads of early learning in Aotearoa. See also: Nurturing lifelong learning through play – Volume 99, Issue 18, of the Education Gazette.

3 May 2021

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Inside the covers of the School Journal World of imagination and ideas For more than 100 years, New Zealand’s School Journal has been an introduction, not only to literacy and reading, but also to a world of imagination and ideas. The Journal continues to foster a love of reading and to inspire, enlighten and inform the children of New Zealand.

John Bonallack, Margaret Nieuwland and Clare Bowes reminisce about the many School Journals they worked on as editor and art editors.


Education Gazette


irst published in 1907, the early School Journals resembled a traditional English reader of the era. They had few illustrations and were largely rooted in distant shores, with writing by William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Jonathan Swift. It wasn’t until the 1940s and World War II that the Journals began to reflect what it meant to be a New Zealander and have an influence on shaping a sense of national identity. Educationalist Dr Clarence Beeby played a key part in this with the establishment of the School Publications branch.

Roll call of artists and writers

New Zealand school children were blessed with a treasure trove of imaginative writing and artistic endeavour, which was later described as an ‘unauthorised history of New Zealand art’ and as Margaret Mahy described it: ‘One of New Zealand’s leading literary magazines’. By the 1950s, writers and artists who were to become household names either contributed to, or worked for, School Publications. The list of colourful and talented creatives who were given opportunities by School Publications is long and includes writers James K. Baxter, Frank Sargeson, Janet Frame, Margaret Mahy, Joy Cowley and Witi Ihimaera. Sir Edmund Hillary even contributed an account of his ascent of Mount Everest in 1955. Artists of that era included Russell Clark, Juliet Peter and E. Mervyn Taylor. By the late 1950s, photographs became more prominent in the publication and work by Ans Westra, John Pascoe, Robin Morrison and Marti Friedlander was featured. In the 1970s, work by artists Dick Frizzell, Christine Ross, Robin White and Gordon Walters appeared in the Journals.

Look of the book

By the mid-1960s, specialist illustrators were emerging. These included Graham Percy, who went on to have an illustrious career in the UK as an artist and illustrator. Art graduate Clare Bowes was encouraged by Graham Percy to check out the opportunities at School Publications and there met and was mentored by artist,

and art editor Jill McDonald, who she credits with changing the look of the Journals in the mid-1960s. Jill subsequently moved to England and influenced the visual style of Penguin’s children’s brand, Puffin. In A Nest of Singing Birds, McDonald is quoted: “The only overall credo I’ve ever had regarding books for children, is that if they look entertaining, or exciting, or amusing enough to be worth the effort of reading them, children will make the effort.”

Māori and Pacific artists

The School Journal featured Māori material from the earliest days, but it tended towards mythological or historical tales. By the mid-1940s, key positions were held by Māori, including art editor Roy Cowan (Ngāpuhi) and editor Alistair Campbell (Cook Islands Māori). During the 1960s and 1970s, Māori writers such as Witi Ihimaera and Patricia Grace contributed first-hand accounts of Māori experiences in the contemporary world. In the 1970s and 80s, Māori artists who contributed to the Journal included Para Matchitt, Ralph Hotere, Cliff Whiting and Robin Kahukiwa; and more recently Philip Paea, Mat Tait, Isobel Joy TeAho-White, Josh Morgan and Reweti Arapere. As the 20th century progressed, the Journal increasingly engaged with Pacific contributions to cultural life in New Zealand, with art editor Vaitoa Baker and artist Fraser Williamson contributing to this body of work.


The School Publications branch of the Ministry of Education became a Crown company, Learning Media, in 1993, and subsequently a state-owned enterprise in 2005. It published all Ministry of Education school curriculum resources until 2013. Lift Education now provides publishing services to the Ministry for the Junior Journal, School Journal, and School Journal Story Library. This article was researched using A nest of singing birds: 100 years of the New Zealand School Journal by Gregory O’Brien, published by Learning Media for the centenary of the School Journal in 2007.

“When they talked about changing the Journal in the 1940s, they wanted it to be responsive and progressive and I think that’s still part of the DNA of the Journal.” Susan Paris

26 July 2021

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Making the magic happen Education Gazette sat down with former illustrators and art editors Clare Bowes and Margaret Nieuwland, former editor John Bonallack and current editor Susan Paris to talk about what it’s like to work on the iconic School Journal.

As a young student at Elam School of Art, Clare Bowes scored a holiday job at School Publications in the summer of 1964-65. She went on to work as a freelance illustrator and then full-time art editor on the School Journal, Ready to Read books and other school publications until 2003. Margaret Nieuwland began working for the publication Education in the early 1980s and then got a foot in the door at School Publications at a time when art editors also had skills as illustrators. John Bonallack, who had been a primary school teacher, thought being a School Journal editor was the best job in the world.

Student-focused and progressive

Susan Paris, who joined Learning Media in 1998 and continues to work for Lift Education, says that from the 1940s, the Journals became much more student focused. “When they talked about changing the Journal in the 1940s, they wanted it to be responsive and progressive and I think that’s still part of the DNA of the Journal. After the War, there was an opportunity to have something that was singularly our own,” she says. “It felt like a privilege to be working on something that was based in New Zealand, that we were creating content for New Zealand schools and children and that it should somehow reflect something of their lives,” says Margaret.

Putting it all together Little did Clare Bowes know, when she was photographed reading the Journal for Education magazine in the late 1940s, that she would end up working as an art editor there.


hey all agreed that ‘content is king’ and that the key purpose of the Journal is to spark a connection with children and create lifelong learners and readers. Margaret, John and Clare reminisced about the ‘golden years’ when ‘School Pubs’ was a hotbed of creativity, as well as being a secure Government job. School Publications handled print media: there was also an Audio Production Unit and Visual Production Unit, which produced school resources. Staff were located in an old wooden annex behind the Old Government Buildings in Lambton Quay for many years, before moving to new offices in Molesworth Street.


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Through the second half of the 20th century, School Publications was inundated with material for publication – most of which had to be rejected because of the sheer volume of submissions. “Along with National Radio, the Journals were almost the only outlet for writers of stories for children at the time. I had written for the School Journal as a freelancer – I was a teacher at Rawene in the Hokianga and I knew what it was like putting your heart in that envelope and waiting, often weeks, for a reply,” remembers John. John edited the Part 3 and 4 Journals, alongside editor Brent Southgate, who edited the Part 1 and 2 Journals at the time. He says there was a kind of productive tension between editors and art editors. “The art editors would resist, and rightly, any attempts for the editors to railroad how the Journal was going to look,” he says.

The art editors’ job is to make the Journals as attractive and accessible as possible, with the illustrations closely relating to a story, while enhancing and adding excitement to it, explains Clare. “We read through the story and got a feel for the total thing and as you read them, people came to mind who you thought would be good to commission for that story. Some had a particular humour, some had fine delicate lines, others had sweeping bold colours and lots of action,” she says.

Pre- and post-digital

Before computerisation, artwork was mailed in and there was a constant paper war in the cramped offices. “Pre-digital, all the artwork would come in and you had to protect it and make sure it didn’t get damaged. We didn’t really have the capacity, room-wise, to store these big A3 illustrations,” says Margaret. “When I first started at the Journals, you would get the text from the editor and then you would mark it up and you chose the font and all that sort of stuff and that would go away to get typeset. Then you would get it back from the typesetter in great big long sheets and you would have to physically cut it up and paste it down,” she says. Clare remembers the 1990s as being a watershed decade, with the art editors sent to Whanganui for a crash course in PageMaker. She says that overall, computer design made the Journals more attractive and dynamic.

“So much more was possible but occasionally the type was subsumed by the wildness, and headings became hard to read. Designers had to be reminded that children were still learning to read and the type should be clear and not confusing,” explains Claire.

Social change

The School Journal was an opportunity to encourage students to think about social issues of the day, says John. “I believed that particularly Part 4 readers, and to a lesser extent Part 3, were capable of understanding social and other issues, so I tried to include articles and stories that would stretch them, and would give teachers material they could expand on and use to extend their more capable students,” he says. In the early 1980s, a new Ready to Read series was developed to replace the series created in the 1960s. A survey was undertaken to determine gender frequency so that the new series would better reflect the society of the day. “They noted every male and every female character – whether they were dominant, sub-dominant characters and they discovered that the stories were very stereotypical. Men were out doing jobs and the women’s appearances were nearly all domestic. I hadn’t really perceived it until that came through,” remembers Clare. By the 1980s, there was a strong Māori publishing department at Learning Media, producing Journal series such as ‘Te Wharekura’ in te reo Māori.

“It felt like a privilege to be...creating content for New Zealand schools and children and that it should somehow reflect something of their lives.” Margaret Nieuwland

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Changes and realignment

Susan Paris.

Susan became a Journal editor in 2006. She edits Levels 3 and 4 Journals and colleague David Chadwick edits Level 2 Journals. “When I started, we had an unsolicited manuscripts approach. It was the tail end of an era when the School Journal was seen as a proving ground for writers and artists. This didn’t give editors much agency to balance content and ensure it related to The New Zealand Curriculum. “In around 2010, it was decided that the editors would commission everything. I was quite apprehensive about this at first. It meant finding a lot of material, which was a daunting prospect. But it really did work well, especially when it came to the non-fiction. There was suddenly a lot more scope to explore topical issues,” she says. At that time, there was a realignment of the Journal levels to better fit the levels of the curriculum. “The big point of difference with the School Journal is that it’s actually levelled instructional material that provides students with the right level of challenge and support so they are able to keep progressing,” explains Susan.

School Journal in the 21st century Today the School Journal continues to feature authentic and


diverse stories and voices from around New Zealand.

The Ministry of Education actively seeks to reflect Te Ao Māori

“We make sure that everything is relevant and of the moment,

and include more te reo Māori within the School Journal series.

that the content really reflects the experiences of all ākonga, as well as being closely aligned to the curriculum. Student engagement is everything,” says editor Susan Paris.

DEVELOPING SKILLS There’s a strong emphasis on helping students develop the reading and writing skills they need to access curriculum content across all seven subject areas from Years 1-8. “For example, if you have an article that had links to the science curriculum, you would be aware of certain vocabulary that they needed to be able to cope with to be able to then access the content. This vocabulary would be carefully considered at the editing and leveling stage,” explains Susan.

The objective is to support learners to value, acquire and use te reo Māori, words, phrases and common terms, as well as other forms of language acquisition such as waiata and local stories. Future issues of the Journal will include more student voice, so that ākonga can see themselves and their peers in the publication and feel supported as writers, as well as readers. Susan says that it’s important to find appropriate people to write content, with subject matter experts and academics having input, if not writing an article. “We recently published an article about the migration of Māori to our towns and cities in the 1950s and 60s, which was written by Aroha Harris, one of our leading historians. We’ve also just published an article about the history of Chinese New Zealanders, written by Helene Wong.


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“Wellbeing is another area of interest at the moment. The latest Level 4 Journal has a memoir by Kyle Mewburn about gender identity and her experience of growing up in what she calls ‘the wrong body’,” says Susan.

The School Journal is becoming increasingly accessible. In addition to the print edition, it is provided as a PDF.

Children today face some big challenges and Susan says that fiction is powerful for developing empathy and acknowledging some of the difficulties they face, such as anxiety or parents who aren’t getting on. “For example, there’s a humorous story by James Brown about a boy going between his mum’s house and his dad’s house. In the background, there are some of the hassles, like having to co-ordinate your schedule with parents who are living separately. The story is a quiet acknowledgment of the reality of some kids.”

26 July 2021

“We also have audio files – some stories are recorded to support readers with diverse learning needs,” explains Susan. “There’s a lot of content at the front of the curriculum that talks about creating confident, lifelong learners who are connected and engaged. So it’s also about providing material that makes students feel informed and empowered to make a difference,” concludes Susan.

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Whānau has deep roots at Blenheim school Springlands School principal Gaylene Beattie continues a long family association with the school since it was established in 1886.


aylene decided she wanted to be a new entrant teacher when, as five-year-old Gaylene Saul at Blenheim’s Springlands School, she was smacked for sitting in a corner and reading books at the ‘wrong’ level. Now the principal, Gaylene attended the school in the late 1960s along with her sister Claire, when their mother Marie Saul was a teacher there – which is how a young Gaylene earned herself a smack. “Because I had been at school with Mum quite a lot before I started school, I was reading at a higher level than I should have been. After being smacked, I actually tried to walk home – I always wanted to be a new entrant teacher so it wouldn’t be like that for children. “As a principal I want every child to come in and have their first day to be really special, and for them to be acknowledged as individuals. That’s why I like the five-year-olds coming in on their birthdays rather than all together, says Gaylene. Claire Hutchison (Saul) has taught at Springlands School since 1993 and is now a literacy specialist, as well as assistant principal. “We have worked really hard to make sure the kids like being at school. We are now more similar to kindy when children first start, so the transition is smoother because we noticed there were some unhappy kids to start with,” explains Claire.

Long association and memories

Gaylene and Claire’s late mother Marie began teaching in 1954, with some years out to raise a family. By the time she retired, she had taught a total of 27 years at Springlands School. “Mum went back teaching when I was four and Dad looked after us at home. That was really unusual and his friends would say, ‘What are you doing?’ He had five acres of garlic and looked after that and us. He was a plasterer at the time and then he went into his own business,” remembers Gaylene. Claire remembers the school being a lot smaller than it is today. “When I was at school, and when I started teaching there in 1993, there were eight classrooms, now there are 21. “In the 1960s, the principal lived on site – the house was in the school grounds where the tennis courts are now. He used to go home for lunch: his wife wasn’t a teacher, but she had a lot to do with the school,” she says.


Education Gazette

“As a principal I want every child to come in and have their first day to be really special, and for them to be acknowledged as individuals.” Gaylene Beattie

A whānau affair. Gaylene (right) and Claire with her daughter Rochelle and her children: Kye (4), Keira (7), Neive (5) at the school’s front gate.

8 February 2021

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The mural, developed by a cohort of school leavers, represents many facets of the school and its kaupapa. You can read more about the mural in this story online.

In the 1980s Gaylene returned to her old school as a second-year teacher before teaching in Wellington and London. When she returned to Springlands in 1994, her mum retired. “That was quite confronting at the time because I came back to be the equivalent of assistant principal and the teachers were Mum’s cohort of friends. I was their boss and I was only young. Mum retired that year – that was the deal: that she would retire if I got the job!” says Gaylene.

Expanding suburb and school

In the earliest days of settlement, most of the area to the west of Blenheim comprised swampy ground covered in flax, with water-powered flax mills producing fibre, which was much in demand for ships’ ropes. As people began to build on higher and drier land in the suburb, which became known as Springlands, it was


Education Gazette

decided to build a school for up to 100 pupils. The school’s centenary publication shows that by 1932 the school had a roll of 168 pupils. In 1969, the school had outgrown itself. Marie’s class, which included daughter Claire, was located in the Methodist church down the road until a new block of land was built and the school could expand. As the suburb expanded, and with Bohally Intermediate and Marlborough Girls’ College down the road, the popular school consulted with the community and reduced the school zone in the mid-2010s. The roll is currently around 430 students. “This is a really nice sized school now,” says Gaylene.

Strong ties

The Saul family lived in the area from before the school was established and can be seen in photos throughout

its history, including one Audrey Saul, an unpaid pupil teacher in 1901. To date, five unbroken generations of the Saul family have attended the school: Gaylene and Claire, their grandfather Mervyn, their dad Ray, their children; and now Claire’s daughter Rochelle Hegglun’s children. Former pupils and teachers have strong ties, with many teachers staying for decades. Three of the current teaching staff were pupils, including Rochelle. Two of her three children, Neive (5) and Keira (7) continue the long line of Sauls who have been educated – or are educators – at the school.

For more about Springlands School in the 21st century, see this story at Education Gazette online.

8 February 2021

Claire and Gaylene with the original school bell, which is still used.

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Ka mua, ka muri in Nelson As one of the earliest European settlements in Aotearoa, Nelson was also at the forefront of developing a model for a free secular education system that was adopted for the whole colony in 1877.

The historic frontage of Nelson Central School is listed by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga as a Category 2 historic place.


Education Gazette


he first school in the Nelson colony, a rush-woven cottage on the banks of the Maitai, was opened In March 1842. At the end of October 1842, it expanded into a day school and a 27-year-old foundry worker, Matthew Campbell, took on the management of the enterprise. Nelson was the first province to initiate free public education, with the Nelson Education Act of 1856 modelled on Matthew Campbell’s school system. According to The Jubilee History of Nelson: 1842 to 1892, the education system was to be based on a tax in which ‘every settler was to be called upon to pay for its support, whatever his religious opinions might be, the basis on which the scheme ought to rest must in equity be a secular one’. The Nelson system merged into the colonial system when the Education Act 1877 was passed. The Act marked the beginning of a free, secular, compulsory state education system for all New Zealand children aged between seven and 13. Not surprisingly, Nelson has its share of historic schools that today are ‘walking backwards into the future’ – ‘ka mua, ka muri’.

The school is in the process of a review of the site and developing a complete educational plan that reflects different philosophies of teaching, the school community’s cultural narrative, and how that informs the school’s pedagogy and use of space. With Nelson City Council’s strategic plan for growth in the inner city, the Ministry of Education has decided the 450-pupil school needs capacity for 600-700 ākonga over the next 30 years.

Building for the future

Pip says teachers at the Decile 7 school work deliberately to build student agency and create environments that allow tamariki to work at different stages and different speeds in the course of the day. But she will quite often find small groups of children using the school corridor as breakout zones. “It’s a bit tricky, when you’re looking at a pedagogy that involves collaboration in an environment that’s been designed for silence!” she says.

Historic inner city school

Nelson Central School is New Zealand’s oldest school still functioning on its original unitary site. The site of the present school was purchased by the Nelson Education Board in 1893 for £1,600. The school building is listed by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga as a Category 2 historic place. “Historic schools have a real responsibility to the past, but we have to prepare our students for the future,” says tumuaki Pip Wells, reflecting on ‘ka mua, ka muri’. Behind the school’s historic frontage, which dates back to 1930, there’s a miscellany of buildings from different eras and a path that meanders up a rise to Renwick House, which was built as a home in the 1860s. It’s now the home of the new entrant and junior classes and a Nurture Room. Outside there’s a twisty bougainvillea vine that inspired the drawings in The Crinkum Crankum Tree written by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Robyn Belton, who was a parent at the school. Providing a 21st century education in historic buildings can be challenging, says Pip. “The buildings were designed to have everybody do the same thing at the same time in silence and with the teacher up the front. The design of the classrooms allows minimal space between students, with what was a blackboard and then repurposed as a whiteboard at the front of the class. It was designed for a transmissive form of education. “Our expectation now is that students can learn at anytime, anywhere, from anyone. In other words, there is differentiated learning which requires different children to be doing different things at the same time, and to be able to utilise each other, as well as adults to support that learning,” she explains.

18 October 2021

Nelson Central School’s youngest tamariki outside the school’s oldest building, 160-year-old Renwick House.

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Working with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and Nelson City Council experts, Liz says the historic frontage of the school will be preserved, but they’ll be working hard to make the internal spaces more effective for modern teaching and learning. “We want spaces that are going to reflect our community and meet the needs of the learners, rather than the actual building. We want spaces that are going to allow kids to manipulate, collaborate, problem-solve, share and present. “We recognise that the learning children require now needs to equip them for an uncertain future. So being able to operate with other people, both digitally and face to face, will be one of the critical skills for them. “If kids aren’t happy and don’t get that sense of real connection and love, then nothing else is going to happen – that’s where wellbeing becomes so critical to success,” says Pip.

Equity for all

Nelson Central School has had a strong commitment to bilingual education since 1985, when a bilingual unit was established. In 2018 the school celebrated two milestones: the 30th anniversary of Te Pouahi, the school’s (Level 2) Māori-medium classes; and the enrolment of Te Pouahi’s 100th pupil.

The drawings in The Crinkum Crankum Tree by Margaret Mahy were inspired by this vine.

“We recognise that the learning children require now needs to equip them for an uncertain future. So being able to operate with other people, both digitally and face to face, will be one of the critical skills for them.” Pip Wells

Pip Wells is passionate about equity for all children at her school.


Education Gazette

“Our community is really supportive of trying to genuinely create a partnership between those Treaty partners and we really think that every child deserves to walk confidently in both te ao Māori and the English world. And we have a duty of care to provide an education for our Māori students that meets their needs. “It’s all about equity – this school has a really strong kaupapa around equity, excellence and belonging. So, if we are wanting our children to belong in this school, then we need to be celebrating what they bring in the gates. And we also have a responsibility to right the wrongs of the past, which are well documented throughout the history of our land,” says Pip.

Continuing the pathway

Erina Tuhakaraina (Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Kahungunu) was a foundation pupil of Nelson Central School’s whānau class – Te Pouahi – where she later taught for 16 years. Now she’s carrying on the mahi as a kaiako at Nelson Intermediate and is an across-school teacher for Te Kāhui Ako ki Whakatū, helping schools build their capabilities around mauri ora (where children are flourishing in their learning). “I was a foundation pupil in 1986. At the time, there was a strong group of parents and kaumātua who were working at the kōhanga reo. There was a group of us who were coming into primary school, so they were asking how our language was going to be nurtured. “It was initially a bilingual unit for us babies back then, as well as our parents who were learning the language alongside us,” remembers Erina. At different times during its 33-year history, the whānau class has been full immersion, bilingual and Māori medium, but it’s always been about keeping te reo Māori alive in a community where just over 10 percent of the population are Māori.

Erina Tuhakaraina.

“The whānau class gave me a sense of belonging. Right from kōhanga reo, we children all grew up together and, for the majority of the time, we could travel the school pathways together. It was different at college – we got separated in classes – although we might come together in something like kapa haka, but to this day, we call ourselves cousins.”

AGENT OF CHANGE Erina trained to be a teacher in English medium through the University of Canterbury in Nelson. She was a young mum living up the road from her old primary school and heard about an opportunity through the kumara vine and began working part-time at Te Pouahi. “I came in as a beginning teacher in a full immersion class – there were a couple of strong teachers: good role models and fluent speakers. I was at Te Pouahi for 16 years – we became bilingual and grew and grew. At one stage we hit the 100-ākonga mark,” she says proudly. At the end of 2019, wanting to continue the pathway for Māori children in Nelson schools, Erina reluctantly left Te Pouahi, and became a kaiako in Nelson Intermediate’s Māori medium class, along with fellow ākonga and teacher from Te Pouahi, Tom Alesana. “We wanted to do our part to support the pathway of Māori medium for our children and we felt we had something to give,” she explains. Erina is one of four teachers in the 52-ākonga, Level 2 Māori-medium class, Te Pītau Whakarei. “We work in a collaborative way – three of us hold leadership responsibilities and we have one beginning teacher, so there are two or three of us on any one day. Continued on page 8.

18 October 2021

The 160-year-old Renwick House provides a homely start to school for new entrant and junior students.

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Kaiako Erina Tuhakaraina returned to her old school to tell some ākonga from Te Pouahi about life at Nelson Intermediate.



“It’s awesome working in a collaborative way nurturing these children, who have mostly come from Te Pouahi and Ngā Mana Kākāno – Māori medium at Victory Primary School,” explains Erina.

Erina is excited about a recent hui held about extending the Māori-medium pathway into Nelson city’s two secondary schools.

Two days a week, Erina is an across-school teacher for Te Kāhui Ako ki Whakatū.

“I have yearned for it to head into secondary and the time has come where the conversations have started,” she says.

“I work with a team of six – we work with, and alongside, many stakeholders like iwi, tumuaki, kaiako, whānau and ākonga around our Nelson kura and kōhungahunga as ‘change agents’ to help build capabilities of others in the mahi we’re doing around Mauri ora, critical theory and cultural responsiveness.”

“I always like to think about who’s gone before, right back to kōhanga reo and some of the kaumātua who created these nests to ensure the language keeps alive amongst this community. Many of them still work in education – my mum works as an initial teacher educator at Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood. A lot of my generation are now collaborating in education settings.”

Education Gazette

Village school looks to the future

At 178 years old, Wakefield Primary School, 20 kilometres south of Nelson, is regarded as the oldest continuous school in New Zealand. It was founded in mid-1843 in the home of Mary Ann Baigent – descendants attend the 270-pupil school to this day. “One of the things that appealed to me when I came to the school eight years ago, was that we are the village school and have been for a long time and there is a strong sense of identity and ownership,” says principal Peter Verstappen. “You notice that at school events when the kids can hear Mum and Dad, or their grandparents talking about ‘when we came to the school...’. For many of the children there’s a strong sense that this is a place that’s been part of their family’s narrative for quite a long time,” he says. “At another level, there’s the school’s relationship with the village and the district. For example, a local farmer left money to the school to build a building over our swimming pool built by the Ministry about 25 years ago. Out of that they formed an incorporated society. The committee consists of representatives from the school, the community and Tasman District Council and we all are responsible for managing this facility.”

Peter Verstappen shows a photograph of Wakefield Primary School in 1943.

RICH LEARNING ENVIRONMENT The semi-rural Years 1-6 contributing school is located in the heart of Wakefield, with Faulkner’s Bush – a piece of remnant forest – on one boundary. Peter says, even though the school is quite close to Richmond and Nelson, the tamariki are country kids and spend a lot of time outdoors. “They’re reflective of the people who live here, they are people who want to interact with the land and the environment around them. We have a lot of kids who will spend the weekend pig hunting with Dad, or pulling in snapper with grandparents, or riding the mountain bike trails that are just around the village. They have a rich environment in which to explore life,” he says. Wakefield Primary School represents “a pretty good timeline of New Zealand school architecture from about the 1930s through to 2011”, laughs Peter. He says there have been minimal challenges in adapting teaching and learning styles in buildings from a range of eras. “In fact, we stripped the inside out of our oldest building and the footprint of the building lent itself beautifully to becoming a modern learning environment. We’ve been able to modify the other buildings and change around quite a number of our spaces in the years I have been here. They are well fit for purpose – as good as anything that you’ll find anywhere, I think,” he says. Continued on page 10.

18 October 2021

A striking mural reflects the bushy fringe of the school grounds.

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Peter acknowledges that one of the downsides of a village school is that children are sheltered from some of the realities of modern life.

Kyro Baigent is a descendant of Mary Ann Baigent. Other tamariki Education Gazette spoke to also had parents, grandparents or siblings who attend or work at the school.

“In terms of preparing our kids for the world they’re going to live in, we have to try a little harder because some things don’t come as readily to hand as elsewhere.

“My ancestors built this school and my dad came here,” says Kyro (Year 5).

“Biculturalism and the Treaty of Waitangi is one of those areas that has not been terrifically visible in the lives of the children, or the school itself. One of the things we have put a lot of focus on in recent times is making it visible so that if you’re a Māori student coming into the school, how do you see yourself in this place? “At the moment we’re building a waharoa/entranceway that captures our bicultural narrative and shows very clearly that this is something we value,” says Peter.

FOCUS ON WELLBEING In recent years, Wakefield Primary School has responded to the changing nature of students’ needs and shifted its focus to wellbeing. “This year, we’re redeveloping our local curriculum very strongly around wellbeing and trying to interpret everything we do through the lens of wellbeing. It’s a huge challenge – and it’s fascinating. For example, teachers are saying, ‘When I run this reading group, how can I do it in a way that enhances wellbeing?’” says Peter. While digital technology is now embedded and cross-curricular, Peter and his team have applied a wellbeing lens to it as well. “We started to feel uneasy about some of the digital behaviours that our kids were modelling, or being exposed to. That has modified our approach to how we use and teach digital technologies in our school. And we’re shielding our younger children from it a little bit more than we were previously. “In terms of the future for our kids, they need to be able to be calm, regulate their behaviour, and have good social skills so they don’t get into conflict with people. And then from that place of calm and self-confidence they can become the learners they are capable of being,” explains Peter.

“My nana came here in the 1950s and my dad did. I can imagine my dad here – he has told me about the teachers he had,” says Hunter (Year 6). “My mum came to this school. My grandmother was a teacher aide at this school,” says Elliot (Year 6). “My mum is a teacher aide here, she’s training to be a teacher,” says Isla (Year 6). Elliot can’t wait to leave school, and Wakefield, and become an animator. Hunter would like to become a Paralympian – maybe in wheelchair sprints. “You can get there, Hunter,” says his friend Elliot. The children all remember a large forest fire in 2019, which saw them relocated to Hope Community Church for a week. For Lochy (Year 6), whose dad attended the school, the fire has inspired him to become a firefighter as his grandparents were on a farm that was potentially in the path of the fire. The tamariki enjoy swimming in the solar-heated pool, which is open about five months a year, and playing in Faulkner’s Bush during the summer terms. “The good thing is having lots of freedom – you can go wherever you like to go within the school boundaries,” says Lochy. And Hunter loves kapa haka and te reo Māori. “I absolutely love te reo because we get to learn more about our country’s culture and I think, overall, it’s a really great for us to kids to learn because they can help us grow and get some jobs,” he says.

Hunter and Isla enjoyed telling Education Gazette about their school.


Education Gazette

Wakefield Primary School was founded in 1843.

18 October 2021

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Murchison school at heart of its community In spite of its remote location, Murchison Area School has found many ways to play to its strengths and make the most of opportunities.


ocated between Nelson and the West Coast, Murchison was at the crossroads of the traditional Māori pounamu route but historically had no Māori settlement. The discovery of gold and the search for grazing land were the initial driving forces behind the establishment of the township of Hampden, later renamed Murchison. Developing a settlement in wild, inhospitable, isolated country was slow. In 1882 local legend (gold miner, hotelier and storekeeper) George Fairweather Moonlight offered a “commodious building for a school” and the Nelson Education Board received a request to constitute Hampden as a separate district and build a house for a teacher.

Region and roll growth

Today Murchison is growing, with people relocating from Nelson, 90 minutes away, and beyond to buy cheaper land and new enterprises moving into town and providing even more employment opportunities, says Murchison Area School principal Andy Ashworth. The roll at the Year 1-13 school has grown from 129 to 180 students over the past five years – and it’s not only due to an increased population. “I came here five years ago,” says Andy. “We completely revamped the senior curriculum so our students know they can stay here, go to university if they want. We also have

Senior leaders Brooke and Luke have attended Murchison Area School since they were five years old.


Education Gazette

“That’s one of the beauties of area schools – there’s so much scope – there’s nowhere to hide in an area school. There’s a huge sense of responsibility from Day 1.” Sarah Peacock

very contextualised pathways, so every student will leave to employment or further education and we have a 100 percent record in that.” In the past, a handful of students would typically leave the school after Year 8 to attend boarding school. But that’s changed. Students now opt to complete their secondary years at Murchison Area School, says Andy. Some of the school’s facilities, which include a cooking block recently discovered to have been converted from a relocated old church, are dated. But about $4.5 million has been spent on upgrades in the last three years, including a new science laboratory, and work is about to begin on a new technology block. There will also be more new classrooms to cater for the roll growth – 200 students are expected next year. There are more than 60 under-five-year-olds in the community, who will soon swell junior class numbers.

Strengths of an area school

Andy says while there are challenges in running a school for five- to 18-year-olds, there are many advantages as well. Teachers have the flexibility to teach across the school and when recruiting new staff, he looks for teachers who are multi-skilled. “For example, two years ago, I appointed a science teacher. She’s a primary teacher by trade, but a science specialist. She now teaches science up to NCEA Level 3, but she also teaches science to our younger kids. It’s a huge strength that we can offer our students something like this. “They have access to the facilities and specialist staff that they wouldn’t get elsewhere. It means our primary students can do activities they would not get the chance to do in a straight primary school. The teacher enjoys having that variety as well,” says Andy. The school takes a restorative approach to any behaviour management issues, creating an emotionally safe environment so children can focus on learning. Such issues are rare, confirms Andy. “Having whole families here – and in some cases generations of families – actually chills everything out.”

Andy Ashworth says there are challenges and advantages at an area school.

Individualised pathways

Because of small class sizes in Years 11-13, Andy says individualised specialist pathways can be developed for each student, and many students complete NCEA Level 3 by the end of year 12. Wendy Thomason joined the staff in 1987, and was head of science and of the secondary school. She now looks after distance learning and the Gateway programme two days a week.

18 October 2021

Roll growth will see new classrooms at Murchison Area School.

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“Our courses are geared around what an individual student wants to learn. So, if a child decides they want to do health science, if I can find a course somewhere like the Southern Institute of Technology, I enrol them and they do it online. They can do vocational distance learning, or academic study through Te Kura Pounamu (Correspondence School). “Now, in the senior school there may only be one or two students doing a subject, so it’s not feasible to have a teacher in front of them and they will do it in the distance room,” she explains. Deputy head boy, Luke Allen, who has been at the school since he was five, is now in Year 12, and has completed Level 3 NCEA. He currently travels to Nelson to study trades at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) every Friday. Next year he won’t return for Year 13, but will move to Nelson to complete a pre-trade course.

Teacher recruitment

While Murchison Area School has several long-serving staff, the remote location means the school loses about two teachers per year. “We attract really amazing teachers, sometimes straight out of uni – they might stay for a few years and develop well. Sometimes they leave with partners, although some marry locals and stay.” With different union agreements for primary and secondary teachers, Andy and his board have come up with a solution to level the playing field for beginning teachers.

“Primary school beginning teachers get one hour release time a week, secondary teachers get five hours release time as part of their contract. I made the call that we have to make that more equitable, so all of our primary staff get four days off a term, for PLD, planning and mentoring. That costs me about 0.7 of a teacher, but we swallow that because it works. Our teachers are motivated and high quality,” he explains.

Long-serving staff

Long-serving primary school teacher Adrienne Cooper arrived as a second-year primary school teacher in 1968, married a local and took time out to raise a family before moving into town and returning to teaching. She’s now teaching a third generation of tamariki. “I love seeing kids make progress, seeing the lightbulb moments, seeing the kids grow up into successful, achieving happy, well-rounded adults,” she reflects. Wendy Thomason agrees. “As secretary of the golf club, I see the ones I taught and what they’re doing with their lives. “I planned to stay for two years, but I’m still here! I think it’s because of the small, individualised teaching and the fact that you know every child from when they start as fiveyear-olds right through,” she says. “It’s lovely to see the seniors develop that independence and motivation to learn and to further their education, or to move away from town. They seem to get the confidence from being in the one school right through, although some of them come back when they have young families of their own.”

Wendy Thomason and Adrienne Cooper with two of the school’s youngest pupils.


Education Gazette

“It’s weird having been at this school since I was five. You show up at school when you’re five and you’re there for 12 years – it’s pretty cool. You get planted as a tree and you grow up!” Luke Allen

Deputy principal Sarah Peacock has been at the school for 30 years and also enjoys having a yarn and a catch-up with former pupils who have been nurtured at the area school. “That’s one of the beauties of area schools – there’s so much scope – there’s nowhere to hide in an area school. There’s a huge sense of responsibility from Day 1,” she says. Teacher aide Tessa Whitnall has a long history with the school, beginning as a five-year-old in 1954. She knows what it’s like to struggle with learning. “I’ve always learned differently – when I was at school some of the teachers used to ignore me,” she says. Tessa feels blessed to be helping children and doesn’t plan to retire while she’s healthy and able. “I love the kids – it’s so awesome. I work with the little ones mainly up to Year 4. I mainly help them with literacy and numeracy. I love the reading side of things. It’s nice to see the different things you can do.”

The best thing about attending a small school is the relationships students have with teachers, explains Brooke. “We have good, supportive teachers and I find the best thing about being in a small school is the relationships you build with teachers – it makes it so much easier having that kind of friendship,” she says. “At a smaller school, you don’t really see them as teachers. You know them as a friend, but not quite. You know a lot about them – their kids might be in your classes,” adds Luke. “It’s weird having been at this school since I was five. You show up at school when you’re five and you’re there for 12 years – it’s pretty cool. You get planted as a tree and you grow up!” he concludes.

Student kōrero

Along with Luke, head girl Brooke Mason has been a student at Murchison Area School for 12 years. “I don’t think I would want to move schools,” she says. “I like having the structure of just staying in one school. You kind of know the school and what goes on. “I suppose it could be limiting – we couldn’t get a teacher in to do a special subject, but we have Te Kura. We get opportunities others don’t – like Spirit of New Zealand – and being a very small high school, you don’t have to compete for positions,” she says.

Tessa Whitnall struggled as a pupil in the 1950s and now feels lucky to be working as a teacher aide at her old school.

18 October 2021

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Supporting the community It’s a three-hour return trip to Nelson, which means it takes any agency a day to visit a child or family in need. Andy says that it’s a constant struggle and the school often has to develop DIY solutions. “One of our big battles is getting the Ministry and agencies to support our community, so we’ve had to adapt many things to work in context. “We are ultra-supportive, but we find it incredibly difficult to get agencies such as Oranga Tamariki here. I am passionate that our location doesn’t matter. We have our SENCO, plus a part-time school counsellor and a Whanake Youth worker, so we’re basically self-contained. This is not out of choice, but we’ve had to be,” explains Andy.

WORKING WITH ADULTS When Andy accepted the job in Murchison, his wife Les had thought she might retire but keep her hand in with some learning support work. “I thought I would do a day a week – that lasted about four weeks!” she laughs. With a long history in special education, social work, counselling and running an alternative education facility, Les soon found there was a lot of unmet need in the community. As the school’s SENCO, she predominantly works with adults – parents, teachers, teacher aides and other professionals. “It’s really unusual for a SENCO to work with adults, but I do that because they are the people who can make change. One of my roles is coaching parents – not how to parent, but to understand their children – I’m really clear about that. “It’s not my role to change parenting but to enable them to understand the difference for their kids, and how they can awhi themselves, so they can work with their own kids. I haven’t really stopped being a teacher or coach; I just realised that if we can coach the adults, the kids are going to be fine,” explains Les. Parents can drop in to see Les, sometimes just for a coffee and a chat; other times they might need more. “Some of it is when something has gone wrong and they need to unpack it and they can’t figure out what to do – they’re often angry and confused. I’m not a counsellor, but essentially a large part of it is a counselling, social work role.” She also provides coaching and supervision for the school’s teachers and teacher aides. “I do coaching and supervision with the teacher aides for at least two days every term. So when the teachers get PLD days, the teacher aides get them as well,” she explains.


Education Gazette

Les Ashworth enjoys the support of the community to develop solutions that help students and their whānau.

RISK-TAKING Les says she couldn’t do her job so easily without the whole-hearted support of the Board of Trustees and the community. “I’ve had so many different experiences and been so lucky with my career, but I know that when you do stuff that takes slight risks, it doesn’t work unless you have people [board, principal, teachers, students, community] around you who think in the same way. “I have an incredible board who back me and support me trying things and we can do stuff other schools can’t do,” she explains. Les is excited about the potential to use technology to help a boy who is blind and autistic and highly auditory. She has also been working with teachers to put frameworks and scaffolding in place so that children with dyslexia can access learning just like anybody else.

REMOTE INNOVATIONS As outside specialist staff may only visit occasionally, Les says they only see a ‘window’ and it’s hard for them to observe children and work with teachers. She has come up with a solution using technology. “I set up a platform and we’re using narrative assessment and videos – so videos are taken of a child engaging in something and whoever puts it up writes a narrative. But there’s an expectation that whoever else [such as parents, students, RTLBs] is involved with the child looks at it and puts the information through their own lens. I’ve only trialled it with three children so far.

“That means that a teacher aide can get ideas and explanations from a speech and language therapist, or from an occupational therapist. You have collaborative comments and then from all that information, a next step is created. It’s a live document. It’s going to benefit those kids significantly,” she says. To provide on-the-ground support, a community of practice was set up involving Les, a counsellor and a school nurse. It was distressing when the nurse left, Les says, but new support came from a Nelson DHB initiative, Whanake Youth, who are now visiting the school one day a week. “They definitely think outside the square. They’ve got access to psychologists, psychiatrists who can do some screening. Suddenly I’ve got access to a group of people who want to work collaboratively and have loads of information and expertise,” she concludes. Education Gazette will feature an article about Murchison Area School’s journey towards biculturalism and developing a localised curriculum later in 2021.

18 October 2021

A cross-curricular project saw students make these pou, which tell the Māori creation story.

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Promising future for Buller students When devastating floods struck Westport in July this year, about 80 members of the Student Volunteer Army from Canterbury University headed north to help. They were fed and looked after by hospitality students and student volunteers from Buller High School.

Ashlee and Phoenix taking part in Buller High School's annual beach clean up.


eeding large numbers of hungry people is nothing new to the school’s Breakfast Club volunteers, who have been providing breakfast for up to 90 people daily for the past six years. So proficient is the initiative that it was awarded Breakfast Club of the Year in 2019, winning national recognition and a substantial cash prize. “The programme was initially developed because students were coming to school hungry. But we didn’t want it to be seen as a place only for people who needed food; rather we wanted it to be more a place where people meet, food just brought them together,” explains principal Andrew Basher. “Numbers were low at the beginning; however, over the last five/six years, it’s become THE place to be in the mornings. We have a group of volunteer students who run it; we also offer barista training and the barista is available for our staff and students who can have a barista coffee in the morning. We sell coffee cards to put money back into the Breakfast Club,” he says.


Education Gazette

On the menu

Andrew says that much more than ‘just Weetbix and milk’ is on the menu at the Breakfast Club. “We get a lot of food items donated – one day you could be having lasagna, apple crumble, meat pasties. Every day there’s toasted sandwiches, cereal and fruit. “Of course, this has led to a surge of interest in hospitality and being a volunteer, our hospitality numbers are through the roof. There is lots of work in the cafés in town – which are full of our kids doing parttime work,” he says. On average, the Breakfast Club feeds 50 people per day, including children from the neighbouring schools, some parents and Buller High’s senior leadership team, who meet there for breakfast once a week. Lunch packs are also made for students who want them. The club is led by head of hospitality Jude Eakin, and the school considers the initiative so valuable that a support person is funded to help run the club.

The students’ mahi can be used for assessment, but Andrew says their involvement is about much more. “We want our kids to achieve as much as possible with NCEA, but that’s not the only skill in life that students need. They need to be good adults and have a sound set of core values that they can live by. And if they can walk out the door with those, then I think we’ve done a good job,” he says.

Pathways and opportunities

Buller High School was first established as a district high school in 1899 and moved to its present site in 1922 and celebrates this centenary next year. The school continues to provide quality education by developing and maintaining a wide range of academic, vocational, recreational, sporting, and cultural courses to meet the changing needs of its community. And according to Andrew, who has been at the school for more than 20 years, Westport is on a roll and there are plenty of employment opportunities for his students if they wish to stay in the area. Ongoing work opportunities are the silver lining to the July floods, which rendered more than 100 homes unlivable. “There’s so much work here – especially in the trades. Our students are seeing that there are career opportunities in Westport. “We’ve had a lot of senior students leaving school for apprenticeships, which is great. All of a sudden, our community has a younger demographic,” says Andrew. Buller High School feeds into the West Coast Trades Academy, which is based in Greymouth, with an outpost in Westport. While the Academy’s hospitality course is offered through the high school, other courses are only available in Greymouth and once a week, a group of Year 11-13 students travels south to attend a course of their choice. “Over the years, we’ve had students study everything from childcare, hospitality, and outdoor education, to hairdressing, Māori tourism, and electrical and mechanical engineering,” explains Andrew.

Building futures

Buller High School has a strong careers and pathways department with students supported to find their interests and aspirations.

“Of course, we want them to get a qualification because that does open the most doors; and through Gateway and Trades Academy we’ve got the ability to offer individual pathways. We can design individual courses for these kids and because we know every kid by name, we know their families, it means that we have a strong interest in making sure they achieve,” says Andrew. There’s also a strong academic pathway, with about 25 percent of the school’s students heading to university, and with a strong performing Arts Department, several each year heading to Christchurch to the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Arts (NASDA), says Andrew. With many multi-generational families throughout the Buller, the community has a vested interest in helping its youth achieve and succeed. “The community is really supportive in everything. Even in terms of scholarships – we have a huge number of local scholarships for our students,” he says.

Values for life

Andrew hopes the school’s values, the ‘Four Rs’: responsibility, relationships, resilience and respect, are well-embedded by the time students leave school. The July floods gave students and staff an opportunity to test them. The school is an early signatory to the Student Volunteer Army and the helpers from Christchurch were joined by 20-30 volunteers from the school. “Our volunteers fed them over in the Breakfast Club and then all of them, including our students, worked together for the two days – they focused on tidying up North Beach.” “Our kids saw that there were others like them that just did things because it was a good thing to do. They learned that you don’t always need to take, you can give back to others as well,” says Andrew. Every year at prizegiving, a former student is invited to share his or her journey to inspire the next generation. “We want to make sure that our students know there is no excuse for them not to do well at our school,” says Andrew. “We have the same high expectations and well-trained teachers and staff as any other school in the country. We don’t want them to think that there are limits; we want them to be whatever they want to be.”

“We want our kids to achieve as much as possible with NCEA, but that’s not the only skill in life that students need. They need to be good adults and have a sound set of core values that they can live by. And if they can walk out the door with those, then I think we’ve done a good job.” Andrew Basher

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West Coast schools affected by boom and bust For more than a century, schools on the West Coast have come and gone as populations have swelled and declined. The region is now home to about 70 ghost towns – remnants of gold, coal or timber booms. There’s a photograph of two bare-footed boys and a girl in front of a corrugated iron building surrounded by mistshrouded bush. You can see the name on the building: Tirinoa School. Tirinoa, population 200-300, was a settlement during the building of the Buller Gorge Railway in the 1930s. There was a hotel, store, workshop, public works store, engine shop – and a school. On 14 June, 1916, the Greymouth Evening Star described a trip by members of the Canterbury Board of Education, which was about to take over the West Coast education districts. “Next morning the whole party drove by motor to Hokitika, having inspected the Otira School and inspecting other schools en route. These schools for the greater part showed signs of past activity only. They consisted for the most part of dilapidated sheds, shacks, and shanties, and schools, which once had boasted large numbers of pupils, could place all now attending in one or two rooms, while the unused portions of the buildings went to rack and ruin.

“This state of things must always more or less prevail upon the Coast, for the mining and sawmilling population are constantly shifting, and what today is a flourishing centre may next year be almost depopulated,” the newspaper reported.

NORTH OF WESTPORT Malcolm Gollan says his late grandmother Lorraine Mosley grew up in Corbyvale on the north side of the Karamea Bluff. In the 1920s, it was a stop on the road between Westport and Karamea (an all-day trip) and about eight families subsisted on small lifestyle blocks. “Their school was apparently the smallest in New Zealand with only eight pupils: their family made up three of those eight. Most families abandoned Corbyvale when it was cut off by the 1928 Murchison earthquake. They all had to walk out and most never returned,” writes Malcolm. The school, which was only open from 1921-1929, reopened for a year in 1945 but closed by the end of the year due to a lack of pupils. Then there was Denniston School in the coalmining township on a plateau more than 2,000 feet above sea level. The principal site of the Westport Coal Company’s extensive operations, established in 1882, was once home to more than 1,500 people. The closure of the Denniston Incline (a precipitous rail system that carried coal down from the mine) in the late 1960s slowly reduced Denniston to a ghost town.

Denniston School closed in the 1960s; it was one of many schools that closed on the West Coast as industries came and went. School children during a nature lesson, Denniston Incline, West Coast. Pascoe, John Dobree, 1908-1972: Photographic albums, prints and negatives. Ref: 1/4-001332-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.


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SCHOOL GARDENS In June 1920, the Greymouth Evening Star reported that a change to the curriculum had caused consternation among some of the schools on the West Coast as they felt they would have to abandon Elementary Agriculture as a school subject, along with wasted expenditure for tools and fencing school garden plots. A protest was made to the Department of Education and the response gave “great encouragement to sole teachers to give the pupils in the upper half of the school some simple instruction in scientific methods through the medium of the ‘School Garden’”. Jack’s Mill School was opened in the small saw-milling settlement of Kotuku in 1909. In 1935, headmaster Edward Darracott was appointed; he was an advocate of a new approach to education in New Zealand, which emphasised experiential learning tailored to the needs of individual children. Considered revolutionary, Darracott gave his students handson projects to teach them practical skills that would equip them for adult life. Making over the school’s garden was the first task. The school’s grounds were laid out in the form of a compass and in the 1930s, the school’s garden won the Best Garden prize for Canterbury and the West Coast. Once the garden was complete, Darracott’s philosophy of experiential learning was realised on a much more ambitious scale when he led a group of 10-12-year-old students to design, build and furnish a small bungalow, built to three-quarter size. When finished, the bungalow was fully functional, complete with electricity and running water and was used as the home economics room until the close of the school in 1955. The Department of Conservation bought Jack’s Mill School in 2004 and it was made a historic reserve. The Kotuku Heritage Society now manages the facility.


Gold brought more than 2,000 people to Lyell. Built in 1874, the school roll rose from 52, when the school opened, to 86, in Lyell's heyday. Buller River Valley, with Lyell school house. Tyree Studio: Negatives of Nelson and Marlborough districts. Ref: 10x8-0733-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22862808

Memories are long-lasting on the Coast and there are groups of community-minded people working to keep them alive. There were two schools south of Reefton and just a few kilometres apart: Blackwater School (1913-1949) and Waiuta School, which were once at the centre of their thriving communities. The town of Waiuta was built on top of the South Island’s richest gold mine. At its height 600 people lived there, with a post office, police station, hospital, school, sports ground and several churches. But when the mine shaft collapsed in 1951, the mine closed and people moved away. The Friends of Waiuta organised a reunion early in July 2021 to mark 70 years since the closure of the Blackwater mine, when the township was abandoned. Blackwater School opened in 1913 to serve the small mining, sawmilling and farming Blackwater area in the upper Grey Valley. The school still has the original desks and inkwells and a local group is fundraising to save the building before time and weather takes its toll on the 107-year-old building.

18 October 2021

“This state of things must always more or less prevail upon the Coast, for the mining and sawmilling population are constantly shifting, and what today is a flourishing centre may next year be almost depopulated.” Greymouth Evening Star, 1916

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Connection and resilience in close-knit Kaikōura community Located between sea and mountains, Kaikōura is susceptible to the vagaries of nature, most recently with the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake, and in 1993 a flood that caused catastrophic damage. But adversity has built resilience and connection between mana whenua and long-time locals in this close-knit community.


Education Gazette

“Things Māori are interwoven in the school and I think that when you have nearly half of the students with Māori whakapapa, they don’t see themselves as a minority – and neither do the other kids.” John Tait


wo minutes after midnight on 14 November 2016, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake rocked Kaikōura – the devastation was massive. John Tait, principal of Kaikōura High School, was unable to get into town for several days, by which time Ministry of Education engineers were on site to assess the damage. “We got an emergency management team together and made a plan for what the reopening of the school would look like. The earthquake happened just as seniors were about to go into examinations,” he remembers.

The school’s fields were used by military helicopters to land supplies from naval ships, which also flew tourists and some locals, whose homes had been destroyed, out of town. Fortunately, the school wasn’t badly damaged. While it was able to be occupied within a short time, repair work continued into 2021. “Importantly, what the earthquake did for us as a school was to make it absolutely clear that the important goal was people’s wellbeing. I think it’s changed an aspect of our thinking about young people

Above: Head boy Ruslan and Māori head boy Rex were two of the first ākonga for kaiako and former head girl Casey Davis at Kaikōura High School. Left: Senior student leaders at Kaikōura High School wear a korowai handcrafted by parent Jaqueline Wadsworth.

26 July 2021

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and education. It’s made us very clear that wellbeing is essential to successful learning,” he says. With a diverse background in educational leadership, John (Ngāti Apa) took up the principal’s role at the end of 2015 with a goal of maintaining and fostering ties with the community. The Ministry of Education had appointed a limited statutory manager to support the Board of Trustees earlier that year. By 2017, the Education Review Office report highlighted the school’s strong leadership and its efforts in engaging Māori students, whānau and iwi.

Restoring mana

Kaikōura High School currently has a 50/50 split of Māori and Pākehā students. Up at the Takahanga Marae, sisters Riria Allen and Hariata Kahu (Ngāi Tahu, Te Ati Awa, Tūwharetoa) recall that when John became principal he went out to meet the school’s Māori whānau. “There had always been a gap between whānau and

education at Kaikōura High School,” says Hariata, who is chair of Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura. “We had a series of whānau hui and all this mamae (pain and hurt) came out because it needed to. No one pulled any punches and it was the best thing in the world that we did hear it. Out of that came some changes which have turned out to be really good,” says John, who is a fluent speaker of te reo Māori. “I think our Māori students are finding the school a bit more comfortable than they did before. The whānau class has been awesome, because it means that at the start of the day, our Māori students can come and feel their own identity; non-Māori students as well. They learn karakia, waiata and talk about their education goals and aspirations. “Things Māori are interwoven in the school and I think that when you have nearly half of the students with Māori whakapapa, they don’t see themselves as a minority – and neither do the other kids,” he adds.

Sisters Riria Allen and Hariata Kahu are passionate supporters of Kaikōura’s young people.


Education Gazette

Embracing change

Hariata and Riria both attended Kaikōura High School in the 1990s and early 2000s and say there was a culture of institutionalised racism at the time. The two sisters are passionate advocates for tamariki and rangatahi in the town. They say there’s been a huge shift for Māori nationwide and now is the time to embrace it. Riria remembers that when she was at school, many Māori students dropped out. This year, five out of six of the school’s student leaders are Māori. “Māori achievement isn’t just about NCEA levels. A huge achievement for Māori is the fact that we never had our young people go to Year 13. Now we’ve got huge numbers who go to Year 13 – it’s nearly 50/50. To have Māori in Year 12 who are engaged and wanting to be at school is a massive achievement for us,” says Riria.

Giving back

Casey Davis (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu) was head girl at Kaikōura High School in 2012 and is now Year 10-

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12 dean. She teaches te reo Māori at the school. “The school went through a big change when I got into senior school and really started to connect and engage with the rūnanga and started to build more relationships,” she says. After graduating from the University of Canterbury, Casey found herself back at her old school. “I came back as a teacher of te reo Māori. I was fresh out of uni, full of beans and really excited. “It’s been really cool seeing the journey of my first group of Year 9 students that I started with. They’re like an extension of my family. Three of those students ended up in leadership roles in the school this year,” she says proudly. As a dean, Casey believes she has an advantage dealing with the five per cent of students who are struggling at school. “I had taught a lot of them and already had that good relationship with them. If they don’t trust you, they’re not going to sit down and have an open conversation with

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Long-time science teacher David Mallinder enjoys a laugh with some of his senior students.

you, whereas if they know I’ve already got their back, it makes it a lot easier to do my job,” she says.

Then and now

When science teacher David Mallinder arrived in Kaikōura with his family from the industrial north of England, they decided “we would go for two years no matter what”. Forty years later, David is still a teacher at Kaikōura High School where he continues to teach physics, chemistry and science part-time “for as long as they’ll have me”. The school, which now has 220 students, was larger when David joined the staff, with a roll of 350 students. At the time major employers in the town were the New Zealand Railways, Fisheries and the Ministry of Works and about 70 per cent of students were Pākehā. “When I started teaching, students were like empty vessels and your job was to fill them up. It’s not the same as it used to be – and quite rightly,” he says. While David says science has always offered more hands-on learning opportunities, he welcomes the


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more culturally responsive two-way learning methods in practice today. “There’s far more emphasis on students working together to solve problems rather than just being told what the answer is. “The big difference now is more about teaching what is relevant to the students and lifting them from where they are to where they need to be in a particular subject. Now it’s more about how engaged and interested the student is,” he says. After 40 years teaching in the school, David says he’s forever bumping into former students and he’s always pleased to feel he played a small part in moulding them, no matter what they do with their lives.

Small town advantage

Deputy principal Jo Fissenden married into a longtime Kaikōura family. She says she can’t make it around the supermarket without at least one conversation about the school. “This community certainly appreciates face to face

“When I started teaching, students were like empty vessels and your job was to fill them up. It’s not the same as it used to be- and quite rightly.” David Mallinder

stuff and that’s a very Māori-centred way of doing things – let’s talk to each other rather than mass emails. But it works for everyone! “Our community is pretty good at letting you know how they feel about things, but often in a way that is low key. I like that because it often brings things up before they are a big problem – it’s a heads-up that allows you to get to SLT (senior leadership team) level and flag that this is a potential issue,” she says. “One of the advantages of a small community is we know our students and their families pretty well. And we’re able to see our students in different contexts,” adds John. “A lot of our students are related to each other, to teachers as well. The pastoral side of our work is probably more informed in a small rural community than it would presumably be in a large city.”

Deputy principal Jo Fissenden.

Professional connections

When Education Gazette was in town, John, Casey and a group of rangatahi Māori visited the bilingual Hāpuku School north of Kaikōura to share some Matariki activities. There’s been a long history of collaboration and co-operation between the six schools in the area and the Kaikōura kāhui ako has added to this with a strong programme of professional learning and development for teachers across the primary and secondary continuum. “It’s been good to look at things that increase our understanding of the learning pathway of the child from Year 1 right through to Year 13,” explains John. A smaller school can provide a wide range of opportunities, but professional isolation can be a challenge, says Jo. “Isolation is a big issue for us because to go anywhere is a day trip. It’s not just an afternoon PLD, but a whole day away. It’s a day out of class for the teacher, finding a reliever, the cost of them being away. That can be a battle at times,” she says.

26 July 2021

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Connected and nurturing

John says the close-knit community grows multi-faceted young people. “That inter-connectedness allows our kids to take a whole lot of skills into the outside world that they don’t even realise they’ve got. It’s all about EQ – and that’s what makes a difference between people who are employable and people who just have a qualification,” he says. “For a little school, our kids really punch above their weight. They go away and they achieve really really well – in sport, academically. And they’re really well rounded: whatever they’re doing academically, most will have a sport and they will be working part-time, so they’ve got that understanding of time and self-management and what the real world is like,” adds Jo.

For extended interviews about Kaikōura High School and its community, see this story at Education Gazette online.

A bit of history

The Year 7-13 secondary school began life in 1866 with the single room Ludstone School, situated a block away from the present school. In 1903 the school was converted to a district high school, which was destroyed by fire in 1905. A revived secondary department reopened in May 1908 with 22 students. In September 1926, the Christchurch Star reported a meeting with the Minister of Education and the Kaikōura School Committee who asked for extra accommodation saying ‘...the school at present being overcrowded, while the high school pupils had to be housed in the condemned building known as the old public library’. By 1927, more than 300 residents signed a petition ‘praying for the erection of a building for secondary classes’. Over the decades, the high school kept outgrowing itself, with the current purpose-built school opened in 1979.

Tumuaki John Tait with head boy Ruslan visited Hāpuku School to take part in Matariki activities. Ihaia-James is the centre of attention, while his mum and school tumuaki (with pepe), Ripeka Tamepo, proudly looks on.


Education Gazette

Senior student leaders at Kaikōura High School: Māori head boy Rex Allen (Ngāi Tahu), head boy Ruslan Ataria-Ivannikov (Ngāti Rongomaiwahine) , deputy head boy Blake Timms (Ngāi Tahu), head girl Summer Fissenden, deputy head girl Samantha Irvine.

26 July 2021

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“The buildings are exciting, but what is more exciting is what is going on inside the buildings.” Robin Sutton


Education Gazette


Reimagining Christchurch schools The earthquakes destroyed lives and damaged schools on an unprecedented scale in Canterbury a decade ago. Now, the revitalisation of Christchurch schools is playing an important role in promoting the urban renewal because the schools are the heart of their communities.


ebuilding schools in post-earthquake Canterbury has provided extraordinary opportunities to reimagine learning environments. The rebuild has led to a rethink and refocus on how architecture assists learning and how to include extensive community consultation. It’s radically different from the era when the schools were first built, many in 1950s and 1960s New Zealand, when standardisation was the common denominator and staff, students and the community had no role in determining what their school looked like.

Addressing inequity

Linwood College Principal Dick Edmundson points to Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk Changing Education Paradigms as a key influence for many Canterbury schools. He talks of a consensus understanding of the inequities in education and a commitment among principals and boards to socially rebuild, alongside the physical rebuild. “The earthquakes centred us on the moral imperative to say, ‘we want every secondary school kid in greater Christchurch to have fair opportunities’, to be able to live in their communities and succeed as themselves in their communities,” says Dick. “Previously, everyone had to fit the mould in a standardised environment. This of course clashes with living in a bicultural nation and multi-ethic community,” he says. As schools first prepared their Education Brief (the document that sets the scene for what they want and highlights their unique culture), then worked through the design process, they encapsulated state-of-the-art theories, which considered the latest pedagogies and what that meant for building design. The brief included the views of staff, students and the broader local community. Every possible architectural embodiment of a learning environment has been investigated, reviewed and tested against each school’s unique needs. Yet no two schools are the same and that’s the essence of building for what your specific needs are in the 2020s.

8 February 2021

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Excitement and anticipation

Challenges with the Ministry of Education’s rebuild programme have been highlighted in the media as the regional rebuild has taken an extended length of time to accomplish for some schools. Yet, there’s lots of celebration for the communities where the rebuilt schools are operating and excited anticipation for those with building underway or planned. Linwood College is presently temporarily sited on the former premises of Avonside Girls High School – a location where education has taken place since 1919. In 2022 Linwood’s rebuild at Aldwins Road will be complete and a new school will be unveiled – Te Aratai College. “We want our community to be able to walk into our school and feel, ‘I belong here. I can see myself reflected here. I can see for my children and my grandchildren that they can be successful in their personalised pathways’, rather than having to leave their true identity at the school gate and to conform to a quite alien model,” says Dick. Linwood College’s principal Dick Edmundson is excited about the rebuild of his school, which will be renamed Te Aratai College.

“We want our community to be able to walk into our school and feel, ‘I belong here. I can see myself reflected her’.” Dick Edmundson

Enablers for education

Originally New Zealand secondary schools were designed for the privileged and powerful and worked as a filtering system through which the privileged few made it to Year 13 and were then prepared to go on to tertiary education, says Dick. Hornby High School Principal Robin Sutton paints a harsh picture of that educational model failing Māori and Pacific students. When he started at Hornby, the Year 7-13 high school was the epitome of 19th-century educational architecture – all single classrooms and the original 1975 ‘prefab’ relocatable buildings were still in place. Now Hornby High School is on a vibrant new campus with a growing roll. Robin says the new buildings are an enabler for education, whereas the previous ones created barriers.

Fit for purpose

Linwood College’s Dick Edmundson wants every child to have fair opportunities at his school.


Education Gazette

He’s no fan of architectural jargon – in fact he refuses to mention the words ‘modern learning environment’. Today, Hornby High School has flexible, fit-for-purpose learning environments and teachers adapt the spaces to what is needed for the tasks the students are working on. Concepts from library design theories for active learning spaces – private alone, private together, public alone, public together – assisted his team’s planning. In reality this means lots of options – both fixed-use areas and areas that allow teachers to choose from a range of different-sized spaces. “The buildings are exciting, but what is more exciting is what is going on inside the buildings,” says Robin.

Continuous evolution

Like many schools today, his team are employing collaborative pedagogy and a connected curriculum. Everyone is changing and developing their teaching skills as the school evolves. It’s challenging, but Robin is in no hurry as the evolution is continuous. In fact, the buildings were designed to last for 100 years. They are shells with no structural internal walls, so the building itself won’t stand in the way of future change. The first new buildings were occupied at the end of term 2 in 2018 and the remainder in term 3 in 2019. The former premises quickly faded into memory as everyone focuses on the ongoing opportunities of the new kura and the vision of confident and connected students with the adoption of the intentional and visible ‘learn, create, share’ pedagogy of the Manaiakalani programme.

Signs of success

Robin says that troubling behaviour formerly disproportionately displayed by incoming Year 9s has disappeared. Writing achievement is accelerating by twice the national average. NCEA results are improving. The Year 7s and 8s who used to be defined physically and metaphorically as the junior school are assimilated into the whole ākonga. And teachers are no longer pigeon-holed as junior or specialist teachers. Staff are buoyed by the fantastic impact the new school has on the students and have embraced the new spaces, setting aside any initial scepticism. One part of Hornby’s evolution is what Robin describes as a focus on the first half of the national curriculum, the ‘soft’ skills, backed by timetabling changes for Years 7–10. There are few stand-alone subjects – English and Social Studies, Maths and Science, Health and PE are paired for collaborative learning. “There’s a rapidly growing pride in the school. We are seeing that in enrolments increasing each year,” says Robin. “The kids are finally in a quality learning environment and get the message that they are valued and important. They have the learning environment they deserve.”

Hornby High School was designed by architects Stephenson & Turner Ltd.

Responsive learning environments

On the other side of Christchurch, the physical architecture at Te Aratai College will be a direct consequence of conversations with the community about what they wanted for their neighbourhood secondary school. Dick’s team use the term ‘responsive learning environment’ – developed in preference to the terms flexible, innovative or modern learning environments. “We use responsive learning environment because the whole point of teaching is that we know our students and therefore we teach and engage in ways that are going to suit them best. Therefore, we want the architecture to support that as much as physical things can support it,” says Dick. Te Aratai College’s local community is both economically and ethnically diverse, with a student roll comprising 30 percent Māori, 10 percent Pacific, 10 percent Filipino, 45 percent Pākehā-Palagi with the remaining five percent made up of other ethnicities. Dick explains the school design is a combination of the best of both traditional and modern teaching spaces, with variety being the key. The base design has a standard-size classroom similar to

8 February 2021

Hornby High School features a variety of interior and exterior spaces.

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what was in the original 1954 campus. The difference is in the detail. The atmosphere is one of whanaungatanga. There are a number of interior and exterior spaces where students can sit and talk, with courtyards made inviting and protected from the chilling easterly breeze to create a sense of community. Each classroom is paired with another and joined by sliding doors that provide the ability to enlarge the space. Outside the classrooms there are larger teaching spaces and smaller areas for individual learning. The design recognises there are times when single-focused teaching, when the teacher is being the guide and using the benefit of their knowledge and experience to directly inform and assist students, potentially from the front of the classroom, is the right thing to do. But that doesn’t have to be the dominant model for the majority of the school day as has traditionally been the case for secondary education.

Responding to teacher and student needs

The design also recognises that there are times when individual students need a quiet space to focus on their studies or work in small groups.


Education Gazette

“Our design is a combination of big and small and allows the staff to work out when to be bigger and more expansive and when to go smaller,” says Dick. The new buildings physically help with responding to student/teacher needs and external factors. Learning at 10am can be very different from learning mid-afternoon on a hot Nor’Wester day in Christchurch. The terms collaborative and connected are very important words to his team, says Dick. However, they are words used by other schools, too, and other schools have chosen to adopt a far more collaborative curriculum.

Celebrating community

Again, it’s not one size fits all and each school community determines what will work for them. When the community consultation is authentic, it validates the design regardless of what any other school chooses for its architecture, explains Dick. “What we decide to do may be different. But we need to be careful we get all the people around the table – we need to ensure everyone’s voice is heard in an equitable way, not just an equal way. Otherwise, the system will just replicate

itself and we lose this opportunity for a moral and education transformation,” he says.

Community consultation

For Linwood College, the local community centres, led by the Mt Pleasant community centre coordinator Linda Rutland, used earthquake recovery funds to join together to finance extensive community engagement and consultation about what the communities wanted for the proposed rebuild of their secondary school. A series of community outreach conversations was organised by specialist Sandra James in 2016 (Dick’s first year as principal) and 1,200 people contributed to the research. The principles that flowed from that process were then tested by the students, staff and school whānau and fed into the Education Brief. “Everybody was saying, ‘We want our local secondary school to be preparing our children for their future, not the future that we have experienced’,” says Dick. When Te Aratai College opens, it will be a genuine and authentic symbol of the local community’s healing and salute to the future.

The new name was gifted to the school by Ngāi Tūāhuriri and means ‘pathway to the sea’ – a fitting identity for a school nestled under the Port Hills and encompassing the communities between inner-city Phillipstown, the beach of Sumner and the port of Lyttelton. “It is certainly going to be a celebration of our local area,” Dick says.

Hornby High School’s design includes the best of traditional and modern teaching spaces.

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An increasingly inclusive education system An inclusive education system is one in which all schools are supported to have the skills and expertise to deliver the highest level of learning for all students. Specialist schools are one part of this system, playing an important role in learning support provision. Today, more than 99 per cent of learners attend mainstream schools and the Education Review Office reports improved attitudes towards inclusion in most schools. Education Gazette talks to Maureen Allan, principal of Waitaha School, a specialist school in Christchurch, about the shift to a more inclusive learning system.

Waitaha School principal Maureen Allan works with students Marcus, Edward and Patrick on a project.


Education Gazette


ntil 1989, children with disabilities were largely excluded from state education and the responsibility for their learning lay with families, special schools, voluntary organisations and psychiatric institutions. A few words, tucked into section 8 of the Education Act 1989, signalled a seismic shift in approach: … people who have special educational needs (whether because of disability or otherwise) have the same rights to enrol and receive education at state schools as people who do not. In the three decades since, a raft of systemic changes has followed to support and promote inclusive education values and practice for all learners.

Every child matters

Waitaha School principal Maureen Allan says she has seen a shift from segregated to inclusive learning during her 33 years working in learning support. She has also been privy to the hope expressed by many parents that their child will be able to attend the local school with their brother or sister. “As a specialist school, we really support that family vision. Whatever can be done in a special school should be able to happen in a local school, and vice versa. If you listen to the parent voice and to the voices of the learners, they want to be able to learn and have fun alongside their same aged peers in the local school, but there are often barriers to that … I don’t think there should be. “I know schools will say it’s fiscal, that it comes down to resourcing, but what is needed, greater than money, is a shift in mindset. Children need to learn with and alongside their peers. All members of the class benefit from the inclusion of diverse learners. The development of caring and inclusive values is a noted outcome of fully inclusive school communities,” says Maureen. The key is in quality leadership. “This includes the belief of the principal that everyone is worth investing in, and that all children are valued as part of the school community,” she says. “It’s about making sure that every child matters and that the work you’re doing for every child is what they need.” Maureen cites Special Education 2000 as a huge inspiration. The aim of this policy was to develop a fair and equitable system in which all students received appropriate support according to their level of need by earmarking funding for different groups. It included improved specialist interventions at the early childhood stage, funding for schools to provide extra help for learners with mild-to-moderate needs, improved access to specialist help for students with difficulties in speechlanguage or behaviour, and a whole-of-education grant for learners with high needs.

“It’s about making sure that every child matters and that the work you’re doing for every child is what they need.” Maureen Allan

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Working collaboratively

According to Maureen learning support is not just the role of specialist teachers, it’s for all school staff. As a specialist school, the Waitaha teachers work closely with the local schools across their catchment and Kāhui Ako to share (and gain) expertise in supporting learners with diverse needs, whether or not they are enrolled at the specialist school. “Regardless of whether a learner has a formal diagnosis, there’s always a reason for why a behaviour happens or why the learning isn’t happening. And it’s the job of the teacher and the school leadership team to be the detectives, and to work out what teaching strategies are required. “At Waitaha we are constantly working to understand why a young person is responding the way they are and what we can do to make the environment better for that young person. Everything our young people do centres around learning and it’s our job as teachers to make sure we’ve got the learning in place; particularly with regard to positive behaviour and the development of social skills. “For example, social learning might happen through a small restorative chat or it might be that the restorative practice happens as part of daily practice within circle time in the classroom. We operate a repair and restore model rather than a punitive system.”

Waitaha School: where superheroes thrive

Waitaha School is a specialist school in Rolleston, Christchurch, catering for high needs students ages 5-21 who are funded by the Ongoing Resource Scheme (ORS). The school operates from a co-located base facility at Lemonwood Grove School with three integrated satellites at Rolleston College, Rolleston West School and Knights Stream School. Waitaha students have multiple, complex needs including intellectual and physical disabilities. The school supports their learners to become more self-managing and independent, and is keenly focused on enabling them to be active participants in the school and in the wider community. “We refer to our students as superheroes with superpowers and we know that anything is possible. In 2021 our challenge is to really grow community connections with respect to employment for our young people.”

Waitaha superheroes in action: Seamus, Marcus, Edward, Tak (teacher), Lauren, Patrick, Eric and Brock.


Education Gazette

This year, a Waitaha secondary student has been appointed as a full member of the Selwyn Youth Council, and a second student has taken on an apprentice role on the Council. “In this small but growing area of New Zealand we applaud the inclusive mindset of the Selwyn District Council and celebrate that the voices of young people with disabilities resonates across the district,” says Maureen. The school is also in the process of transitioning some students to their local school using tailored transition plans that are shaped by the aspirations of whānau and developed collaboratively with Waitaha, the local school and the Ministry.

in specialist education, and the school encourages all teachers to continue their professional development. “This year we are focused on strengthening post-secondary transition pathways for our 18- to 21-year-olds and are working closely with our local Ministry of Education office regarding opportunities for this group of students. This has also involved positive engagement with the Selwyn District Council.” The school’s population is diverse with 11 percent identifying as “other” in addition to those who are Māori, Pākehā and Pacific.

“The school is fully committed to supporting the transition of learners back into their local schools after a time at Waitaha. How fantastic it is to have both worlds [specialist and local] working together in such a rich and reciprocal partnership to provide the best opportunities for our young people.” Waitaha School employs 34 teachers and a specialist therapy team. Five teachers have academic qualifications

3 May 2021

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Historic Dunedin school welcomes diversity Dunedin’s Arthur Street School has welcomed newcomers to Aotearoa since 1848, with about 28 different nationalities currently represented at the school.

Arush has found a warm welcome at Arthur Street School.


unedin’s inner-city Arthur Street School is the city’s oldest school, established before the first group of immigrants on board the second immigrant ship to arrive in Dunedin, the Phillip Laing, set foot on shore. On arrival, the school was transferred to a waterfront site where it was known as Beach School. In 1864 the school was shifted to another central city site before it was opened on its present site in 1877 and renamed Arthur Street School. A gold rush in the Otago province during the 1860s caused Dunedin’s population,


Education Gazette

and wealth, to increase dramatically, and demand for schooling increased. In February 1880, the Otago Daily Times reported that many of the city’s schools had seen an increase in attendance, with Arthur Street School reportedly jampacked with an average of 520 pupils. On 19 February 1883, the newspaper published a letter from a parent whose son was turned away, and wrote that the headmaster had ‘turned away at least 20 children already that day’.

There are reminders of the school’s long history in plaques at the school and in downtown Dunedin. The school and the Hocken Library also hold minutes, books and memorabilia from throughout the school’s history.

Supporting newcomers

Today, Arthur Street School’s roll sits at a comfortable 200+ pupils, an increase of about 90 tamariki in five years. A school zone was put in place at the end of term 3, 2020. Principal Kim Blackwood says one of the features of Arthur Street School’s community is its multi-cultural nature. “We have done a fantastic job to be able to support our different ethnic families and they feel comfortable and supported. They then talk to others within their communities and before we know it, they’re knocking on our door. “Parents choose this school because of what we can offer and what our children are exposed to, such as the different cultures and nationalities: people want their children to be involved in that,” she says. About a quarter of the roll are ESOL students, which includes eight former refugees. ESOL teacher Janine Cotton is passionate about her job. “The former refugee students, in particular, may have had a very unsettled education and it hasn’t always been in their first language. Some can put it together, but for others, it’s just very confusing. I hope our means of teaching makes some sense and that it’s fun along the way. I don’t want children to not try in case they get it wrong,” says Janine. “Oral language is picked up quite fast. That for me is the priority, that they’re able to ask questions, make friends, express what they need or want. Then the reading comes and eventually the writing. Some learn very quickly and for others it’s difficult – depending on how much education they’ve had where they came from,” she says.

New horizons

Janine is supported by Rasha Ali, a bilingual interpreter, who supports Arabic-speaking children in seven Dunedin schools. Her role includes interpreting for the children and liaising between the school and the families. While they believe that most former refugee children seem reasonably well settled, Rasha knows what their families are going through. “I have been here for four and a half years. I am Palestinian; I was born in Iraq, and after the war there, I lived in Syria, then spent seven years in Cyprus and then lived in Thailand before coming to Dunedin. “I enjoy the work here because I’m translating all the time in Arabic. I feel that I’m helping them,” she explains. Mahmoud (13) and Mirna (11) are both originally from Syria, although they have little memory of their homeland, having done their schooling in Lebanon before arriving

3 May 2021

Top: The former infant school building is a Category 2 listed heritage building. Bottom: Arthur Street School with Dunedin and the harbour in the background.

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Kim Blackwood with some of the children who represent the diverse nationalities at Arthur Street School.


Education Gazette

Fiona, Jan and Sandra look at some books featuring the history of the school.

in Dunedin. With the help of Rasha, they tell Education Gazette that while everything was different when they arrived in Dunedin, they find it easier to learn. Both believe they can have good futures in New Zealand. “Here it will be a better future for me; I will learn a lot. The teachers’ way of teaching helps me learn. I want to be a builder,” says Mahmoud. “I want to be a doctor. It’s not easy to be a doctor as a woman in Syria – I didn’t expect that I could do that,” says Mirna.

School camp anxiety

Experiences like school camps, which most Kiwi children take for granted, can be challenging for newcomers to Aotearoa – particularly former refugees. “It’s been a steep learning curve. I guess depending on what they’ve been exposed to, families being divided, can mean awful things. “We put together photobooks from previous school camps and we try and answer a lot of their questions way before the kids go to camp. While at camp, teachers will send some text messages and pictures of their kids to reassure the parents,” says Kim. “Rasha and I have done a lot of work preparing the families for camp, explaining what camp is about,

providing photo charts of what they need to pack for camp. There’s some anxiety around the activities, but for most families, their primary concern is the separation,” says Janine.

Local curriculum

Arthur Street School is on the doorstep of Dunedin’s Town Belt – 202 hectares of regenerating native forest, with panoramic views across the city and harbour. The school uses this rich resource in a variety of ways, such as involvement with other schools located along the Town Belt in a kaitiaki pest eradication programme. “It’s not for everybody, but for those young people who are passionate about conservation and the environment, it’s a fabulous opportunity,” says Kim. Esme, aged 12, has been at the school since she was five and was one of the founding members of a group called Town Belt Kaitiaki (TBK) which is dedicated to preserving the Town Belt. “I love the Town Belt and how natural it is here and there are so many native plants,” she says. The Town Belt has also inspired a science perspective, which is now embedded through the whole curriculum. “It was initially a way of engaging boys, but now we do it across the whole school. About three or four years ago,

“Every school has its own flavour – we don’t want to lose that because we’re not all cut from the same cloth. Every individual brings something different.” Kim Blackwood

This plaque in Dowling Street, central Dunedin shows the early history of the school. There is a time capsule burried under it.

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Mirna, Janine, Rasha and Mahmoud in the school’s ESOL room.

we were writing charter goals and looking at our data. Writing is one of those goals, especially boys’ writing. We decided to make a bit of a change. How were we going to get these boys involved? We worked out it needed to be more hands on. “It’s very easy to teach in isolation, particularly when there’s so much to cover and so we had to get smart about what that looked at, and that’s where the science framing came from. It’s a very wide curriculum that we have to get across. It’s about pulling it back in locally to what’s important to us,” explains Kim.

Pride in school

Sandra Darracott (reading recovery teacher), Jan Skilling (retired librarian) and Fiona Neill (teaching assistant) have clocked up over 50 years between them at Arthur Street School. When Sandra arrived in 1993, the school was welcoming Cambodian students – mostly refugees. “It’s very diverse – it’s a very accepting culture. When you go out in the big wide world, that’s how the world is: you want children to have empathy. I’m still in contact with some Cambodians who live in Australia – they have lovely memories of Arthur Street,” she says. Fiona is in her 10th year as a teaching assistant. She began working with ESOL students, but now largely focuses on helping students at, or below, curriculum expectations for literacy and numeracy. “It’s a good school because I think we’re very well managed. It’s an interesting school because you have quite a cross section of children and it gives the others an understanding of different cultures,” she says. A former teacher, Jan was school librarian for 20 years and retired at the age of 80 in 2019. “I just loved it because I still had my professional colleagues, which was really important and I still had contact with the children, but I didn’t have the responsibility for them. “If you meet children outside the school, they are very proud that they went/go there. There’s a deeprooted loyalty,” she says.


Education Gazette

New build offers opportunities With the Town Belt at its back, an historic reserve to one side and Otago Boys’ High School just down the road, there’s not a lot of room to expand. But the school is in the preliminary design stages of a complete rebuild. Most of the buildings date back to the 1960s and principal Kim Blackwood and her team have the challenge of developing a fit-for-purpose school to last 50-100 years. Kim says the school community has a preference for single-cell classrooms over open plan learning environments. “I think single cell classrooms help us cater for that diversity of needs, because it’s very easy to get lost in a crowd. If you’re already somebody who is struggling and there’s so much going on – how can you be sure that you’re giving the best to those children.” The new build also gives the school an opportunity to build a solid foundation for its digital technology curriculum. She says while the school is unlikely to become a one-to-one device school, the children of tomorrow need digital skills. “We’re right at the start of going back to basics and underlining what our digital curriculum will look like. With a school of this age, everything has been an add-on and an afterthought. “It’s all very well having the devices but you’ve got to have the infrastructure to be able to support that. At the moment, every device that you put on this current system just puts more pressure on it. Classes find they keep dropping off, whereas I know with the new build, that’s not going to be an issue.”

Arthur Street School has a tuakana-teina buddy system: Esme (centre) with Angus (left) and Tema.

3 May 2021

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Education Gazette


Deep, rich history at Otago Peninsula school Otago Harbour and the surrounding countryside has been the classroom and playground for generations of children at one Dunedin school, which plans to capture some of the rich history of the area thanks to a grant they received in 2020.


road Bay School will use a Canon Oceania Community Grant for a project to construct a 3D model of Broad Bay and Otago Harbour which will connect people to the recorded oral histories of local people through QR codes. “We’re really trying to give the children a sense of who they are, a sense of identity and of knowing deeply where they’re from. So, it’s about understanding the past, the present and the future. “We’re basically at the epicentre of an ancient shield volcano which eventually eroded and created this harbour, which brought in marine and bird life,” says principal Greg Macleod. “Māori came and looked after the land, then there was the interaction with the whalers and sealers and then the early Scottish settlers. That changed the landscape of this area. Then Dunedin hit the goldrush and there was a lot of money in Dunedin and a lot of wealthy people built holiday homes out here,” he adds.

Early days

Ruby, Vera and Ezra ‘take five’ with principal Greg Macleod in Broad Bay School's community garden.

26 July 2021

The school was established in 1877 and when the 60th anniversary was held in February 1938, the Evening Star described Broad Bay in the 1870s as a thriving little settlement with increasing numbers of children and no school.

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“Eventually, however, the persistence of the Broad Bay residents was rewarded, but not before they had agreed to find a portion of the expense, the Education Board contributing £203 towards the cost of the erection of the school, £75 towards the teacher’s residence, and £60 for fencing,” reported the Star. Anita Wates (née Wilson) was a pupil at the school in the 1930s and was recently interviewed by an oral historian and children from Broad Bay School as part of the oral history project. She described Broad Bay as the ‘Riveria of Dunedin’ with families such as the Speights having holiday cribs in the bay. She told them about an outrigger canoe her father built from corrugated iron which they used in the harbour ,and crazes for different games such as marbles, hop scotch and wooden spinning tops. The outdoor environment was a significant part of her childhood and she still remembers being allowed to touch an albatross chick. “Nature studies was very important. We went for nature walks and studied certain things, then had to go and write about it. The head teacher, Miss Sutherland, was a conservationist and taught us to be conservationists,” she recalled.

Three generations of Broad Bay School pupils: left to right, Mike, Bob and Jethro Stanley.

Time spent in nature has always been a feature of the school.


Education Gazette

Four generations

Several decades later, Bob Stanley and his nine siblings attended the school. He remembers roaming up to Larnach’s Castle which was derelict in those days, stealing apples and a kindly school neighbour who made vegetable soup in the winter for the school’s 90 or so pupils. She used produce from the large school vegetable garden which was tended by the children, who also mowed the lawns. Children were always in, or on, the sea at their doorstep and a favourite memory was of playing cricket on the sandbank in the middle of the harbour, says Bob. “One thing we used to love doing, was we would swim from the Broad Bay Boating Club out onto the sandbanks at low tide and the parents would come in their rowboats and we’d have a game of cricket out there. If you hit the ball on the full and the kids had to swim after it, that was a six! It’s in the middle of the harbour – at low tide, it’s almost like a paddock,” remembers Bob. Bob’s son Mike attended the school in the 1970s and reckons school was pretty similar to his dad’s day. “I think my boyhood was probably the same as Dad’s – we’d get home from school and get straight into the harbour – year-round, rain, hail or shine. Sailing and canoes. Playing up in the paddocks – we’d go up to Larnach’s Castle – it would have been open then. We’d spend 99 per cent of our time outside – we’d go and camp down at The Pyramids when we were about 10, 11 – we thought we were on our own but the farmer there was keeping an eye on us!” “We sat at desks, we did what we were told. I don’t really remember any schooling – I just remember playing. We played games like bullrush that you’re not allowed to play anymore,” says Mike. (Tamariki listening to the interview said: ‘I want to play that so badly!’)

“When Mike was a boy, a woman in her 80s used to swim every day and she always asked one of the kids to go swimming with her – Mike used to often swim with Mrs Ritchie,” adds Bob. Mike’s son Blake attended Broad Bay School in the 2000s and grandson, Jethro (5) is now at the school. “I think school nowadays is brilliant. When I was at school, you went to your classroom – there were about 35 of us in it – all the desks were in line and you didn’t say a word until you were spoken to,” says Bob.

“I think educators need to find out what they have on offer in close proximity to get kids outside of classrooms as much as possible.” Greg Macleod

Outdoors learning environment

While Broad Bay is more suburban than rural today, Greg is determined that tamariki at the 33-student school have opportunities to experience the natural environment that surrounds them. In Bob and Mike’s day, this generally happened outside school hours, but nowadays it’s integrated into the curriculum. There are two composite classes, with teachers making the most of the opportunities afforded a school in the heart of the Otago Peninsula. “I think educators need to find out what they have on offer in close proximity to get kids outside of classrooms as much as possible. In this day and age there’s so much reliance on kids being indoors on devices. I see that we’ve got an obligation to teach children about getting themselves out in the environment, you’ve got to teach them how to be safe and make good judgements. That’s a big part of our programme here. “We had the push about creating modern learning environments and I feel quite comfortable in a traditional classroom setting. We’ve flipped that idea on its head and our innovative learning environment is the outdoors environment,” he says. Mike Stanley helps out with the water safety programme which, once a week during summer, sees the entire school learning to be safe in the water. Greg is a volunteer life guard and believes these skills are important, but it goes beyond that. “I always use water safety as an analogy to learning – when we feel uncomfortable in the water, that’s good because it means we’re pushing beyond our comfort zone. We’re challenging their fears physically so that when they have emotional fears that come in the form of abstract fears, they can meet them.”

26 July 2021

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Empowering children

Combining the rich natural environment enjoyed by the children through the decades with the modern curriculum empowers children and helps their mental health, says Greg. “In 2019, we were involved in the Climate Strike protests – we were in town that day protesting, because that’s about the future. It’s about giving students a voice and teaching them that what they do does matter. “It’s empowering them to understand that the little things they do here, do make a difference and that if we all looked after our patch and treated it with respect, that’s doing something. Anxiety is becoming more prevalent and getting in touch with the environment, being in the water, around trees, in the open air is helpful. There’s that wellbeing aspect, but it also empowers them to feel like they’re doing something,” says Greg.

The school is also involved with STOP (Save The Otago Peninsula) and as kaitiaki of a nearby stream, has been doing riparian planting since 2013. “The creek runs into the harbour and I want the children to understand that we swim in this harbour, we want it to be healthy. We’ve learnt about the ecology of streams, we’ve measured water quality, water flow, invertebrate life to understand if we have a healthy environment. “My vision for the school is about utilising the environment and the people in the community to allow our children to be confident citizens in a local and globalised world. We’re really trying to get them to be comfortable with who they are, be able to communicate effectively and with confidence so that they can have a voice,” he says.

“My vision for the school is about utilising the environment and the people in the community to allow our children to be confident citizens in a local and globalised world.” Greg Macleod

Broad Bay School with Otago Harbour at its doorstep.


Education Gazette

Giving voice to local history

In 2020, when tamariki from Broad Bay School heard they had been awarded $5,000 in Canon equipment and an equal amount in cash, they “went berserk”, says principal Greg Macleod. The school has also secured funding from the Dunedin City Council to employ Kāi Tahu artists Ricky Ngāmoki and Alex Whitaker from Puketeraki Marae to work with the students to conceptually design a 3D sculpture. “We’ll create a 3D physical map or representation, which may be a metaphorical representation of the harbour and Dunedin. The digital archives will be stored and located geographically in a virtual 3D repository for everyone to access. That will be the gateway that will connect to the recorded audio-visual histories of the local community. “Dunedin local Ian Taylor, from Taylormade Productions, has expressed an interest in working with the school. Otago Polytech is also interested in working with us. We’re trying to work with our community and ask the question: what does it mean when schools work with their various communities?” Greg says the project will combine learning about modern technologies, which could include virtual and augmented reality, with local history.

Bob Stanley reminisces about his school days with Noah, Asher and Mila, who are involved in the oral history project.

“We want to be on our feet and running ahead of the AAotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum coming up. “We’ve always had in our charter ‘Engaging the Community’, but it asks who is our community and what do we know about them? Already we’ve had a 94-year-old ex-pupil come back and the kids get a sense that there is a rich history in this area that they should learn about and celebrate,” says Greg.

TAMARIKI KŌRERO Tamariki at the school today want the project to be finished before they leave school, but they are also excited and proud about the role they are playing in this project. “I’m excited about the art side of it – visualising. I’m quite excited to find my place in this area. I’m Pākehā – and will feel more connected,” says Mila (12). “I’m very interested in the technology side of things. I had an idea that when the QR code is scanned, a virtual person would start talking and we could use an AR input: the person would be talking in the location where you are,” says Noah (12). “I’m interested in the stories and the geology. We’re looking at the Dunedin volcano at the moment. I’m hoping that we will be able to do drawings, a movie. I see the fact we’re on an old volcano as being a big part of the project,” says Oli (12). “I’m not from Dunedin or New Zealand, I’m from Japan. I don’t know much history about it, so I’m very excited to do this project because I think I’ll learn a lot. I’m also very excited in the technology things as well – the recording and editing,” says Keisuke (12). “I’m trying to empower them and make them understand that they can be storytellers – that they can achieve what they need and want. That there are no barriers except for their own hurdles,” adds Greg. 26 July 2021

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Nurturing young Māori in the Deep South An Invercargill wharekura founded 30 years ago is now the largest in the South Island – and is going from strength to strength.


ore than 200 voices rang out in waiata and kapa haka to greet Education Gazette in a mihi whakatau when we visited Te Wharekura o Arowhenua in March. That pride and enthusiasm for te reo Māori and tikanga has been at the core of the wharekura since the earliest days when a group of women from Muihuku started a small kura for children in Invercargill. Ani Wainui (Ngāti Porou / Te Whānau-a-Apanui) was the leader of this pioneering group, and went on to be principal of Te Wharekura o Arowhenua for 28 years until 2017. She was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for her mahi in revitalising te reo Māori in Southland in 2020.

Reaching potential

Ani will be the first to say it’s a team effort and current principal, Gary Davis (Kāi Tahu, Kati Māmoe, Waitaha) is looking forward to having nine raukura (exstudents) on the teaching staff of the Year 1-15 school by the end of the year. “We have been focusing on strategically growing our own teachers because that was always an issue for us: getting te reo speaking teachers. Our raukura who are interested in becoming teachers will come back and give time as kaiawhina [helpers] in our classes. “It gives them a chance to see – and for us to see – whether they’ve got the skills that we think they need. Then after a year or two we fully support them as they follow the pathway to getting their degrees,” says Gary. “We push them into becoming teachers!” laughs deputy principal, Tiahuia Kawe-Small (Raukawa ki Wharepuuhunga, Rereahu, Maniapoto). Tiahuia has taught for 30 years, with 15 years at Te Wharekura o Arowhenua. “Earlier I was a resource teacher of Māori, but my passion has always been kura kaupapa Māori.” It wasn’t until she studied at the University of Otago, that her eyes were opened to some of the inequities that exist for Māori students. “That’s when I thought, this cannot happen for Māori students. Why should I get to university and find out that the system I’ve come through wasn’t made for me? I had to put my Māori side away.” Tiahuia firmly believes that kura kaupapa is the best system for Māori students. “I personally believe that’s because you can come to kura, be Māori, who you really need to be and reach your full potential. And that’s why I do what I do,” she says.


Education Gazette

Year 10 ākonga Mystery Pohatu at the mihi whakatau that greeted the Gazette.

26 July 2021

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Raukura return

Education Gazette spoke to three raukura, now kaiako at the wharekura, who wouldn’t be anywhere else. Sisters Rivah and Jahna Hura (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Raukawa) will be forever grateful to their late father, Paul. “I went to kindergarten – I cried my eyes out every day. I went to a mainstream primary school in Invercargill; I was there for two weeks – cried every day and then my dad took us out. When I was at the pōwhiri here, I felt that I had come home,” recalls Jahna. “He and my mother were not speakers of te reo Māori but my father had a dream that one day his children and grandchildren would be proud, fluent speakers of te reo. So he decided to enrol us into this school, Te Wharekura o Arowhenua. Two of my older siblings were actually enrolled in a mainstream school; he went in at lunchtime one day without my mother’s knowledge and took them out; we’ve never gone back,” adds Rivah. Rivah feels emotional and grateful for the positive impact Te Wharekura o Arowhenua has had on her life. “Now, just like my father I have a dream that one day Māori in the South will use their ancestral tongue and be unapologetically Māori. I know I wouldn’t be as confident

as I am today without my kura. This is my home,” she says, with tears in her eyes.

Right place

Rivah, who teaches Years 1 and 2, completed a teaching degree at the Invercargill campus of the University of Otago in 2014. “Academically I was fine, I could handle the work, but it was like going to a foreign world,” she says. The course involved practicum placements at mainstream schools. While these were a good experience, they confirmed to Rivah that she’s in the right place teaching in kura kaupapa Māori. “But in saying that, I have gained teaching theories and management strategies that I continue to use in my akomanga.” She believes that Te Aho Matua is more than a curriculum. “Te Aho Matua is a way of living. It comes with me when I go home.”

Back to roots

Jahna calls her degree – Te Aho Tātairangi: Bachelor of Teaching and Learning Kura Kaupapa Māori from Massey University – her “third time lucky degree”. She tried a year in

“I think te reo and tikanga Māori are flourishing in Aotearoa because of kohanga reo, kura kaupapa and because Māori have taken it upon themselves to do what Māori should do.” Ani Wainui

Jahna Hura’s main objective as a kaiako is to inspire and uplift her students.


Education Gazette

English teacher training, followed by a year at a wānanga and says neither fitted. She taught at a kura kaupapa at Ruatoria for five years before returning home. “This is my third year back in Invercargill – I teach the babies! It was polar opposite to what it was here – we’re a little bubble inside the big dome of this community, which is filled with different people and languages, whereas in Ruatoria, basically everyone speaks Māori,” she says. (2018 Census figures: Ruatoria: 95 per cent Māori; Invercargill: 16.4 per cent Māori.) Jahna who lives at Riverton and loves the outdoors, notices the impact of social media and American culture on the ākonga at the kura. “I say to them, ‘That’s not what we’re about. Try and put your phone down and have an hour of being outside in the taiao [nature], listen to the trees and the birds. Just close your eyes and lie down and feel the whenua – this is where you belong’.” Jahna’s main objective as a kaiako is to inspire and uplift her students. “Being a teacher is definitely a big rewarding job for me. There’s never a dull moment in our akomanga, its draining but I love it,” she says.

Giving back

Shandley Aupouri (Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi) says he didn’t know much English until he was 13. “I grew up being told that if you don’t know English, you’ll struggle in the outside world. I’ve managed to go to university and I’m still not English savvy – I’m really immersed in Te Ao Māori,” he explains. He spent two years as a teacher aide at his old kura and was supported by the kura to attend Te Wānanga o Raukawa in Ōtaki. He has just completed his master’s degree in teaching and leadership and is in his first year of teaching Māori performing arts. “I wanted to be a sportsman, but then I realised there aren’t many Māori teachers, so I have dedicated my life to being a Māori teacher. It wasn’t enforced on me but I wanted to do it – speaking Māori 24/7, sharing our myths and legends and being an example – especially for young males. “To be honest I can’t see myself away from this kura. When I’m here, I feel a sense of belonging and purpose and wanting to give back – it’s massive.”

Changing the narrative

Shandley’s biggest hope and dream for the ākonga at the kura is that they don’t feel any shame for being Māori. “I hope they leave here feeling proud and knowing that just because we’re predominantly English around here, which is fine, it doesn’t mean that you have to put your head down and just follow the sheep in front of you. “Just be proud of who you are – find out the essence and depth of who you are, and you’ll be fine,” he says. “Kura kaupapa is about strengthening the cultural capital within the tamaiti. If we are able to holistically nurture the tuakiri o te tangata, then we’re doing our job. A child that knows who and where they come from can walk with confidence in any world,” says Rivah.

26 July 2021

Top: Tumuaki Gary Davis wants to encourage students to become teachers and return to the kura. Middle: Kaiako Rivah Hura dreams that one day Māori in the Deep South will be unapologetically Māori. Bottom: Shandley Aupouri was a former pupil at the kura and feels a sense of belonging and purpose as a kaiako.

Tukutuku Kōrero


Kōrero with Whaea Ani Wainui Rivah Hura interviews her former principal and mentor, Whaea Ani Wainui. Tell me about your upbringing in Te Ao Māori.

I was brought up at Cape Runaway in the Bay of Plenty in the 1940s. My dad died when I was five, so my nannies brought me up. They spoke Māori to us all the time; our whole life was around Te Ao Māori. They sent me to Hukarere Māori Girls’ College in Napier. I cried every time I had to go back to school, but my Mum was quite staunch – I stayed there for five years. I managed to top all the reo classes right through school. I learnt a lot at boarding school – what it is to be Māori and that there are other iwi in the country.

Tell me about the social climate and response when you began teaching and promoting te reo Māori in Invercargill. We had about 100 kids doing kapa haka, because I believed that te reo Māori had to be fun. The parents didn’t care, it was just part of learning and education at that time. That boosted my energies to keep going in te reo Māori in Southland. When we came to setting up kura kaupapa some years later, then the boundaries started to move and the barriers started to come up.

Why did you become interested in kura kaupapa?

awesome, we got to 60 kids – awesome! We got to 160 kids and then we had to shift. Our kura is part of a group of around 60 around the country who come under Rūnanga Nui o ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori Te Aho Matua, which is the philosophy under which our kura are run.

What do you think the future holds for kura kaupapa in Aotearoa?

We have got some brilliant strategists in our kura. We’re always scheming ahead – making sure we have enough qualified teachers. We’ve been down this track since the early ’80s and the kura are growing. I’m not saying there are no problems, but as far as we are concerned, we are doing the right things for our tamariki.

What do you think the future holds for te reo and tikanga Māori?

I think te reo and tikanga Māori are flourishing in Aotearoa because of kōhanga reo, kura kaupapa and because Māori have taken it upon themselves to do what Māori should do. Because it’s not just Māori kids who are flourishing through this, other kids are very keen. I think it should just be a way of life that we are trying to promote.

In 1984 my youngest daughter was born. In 1989 I visited Waikato Teachers’ College and that’s where I first heard about kura kaupapa Māori. When I got back to Invercargill, I was teaching at Cargill High School and I tried all sorts of things; I was literally laughed at. But I’d been on that course where we’d talked about the development of our Māori kids. They weren’t getting anywhere and the Pākehā system just did not suit them. We battled on. I talked all over the place – Otago, Murihiku [Southland] and Nelson where Pita Sharples and I spoke to some interested Māori community members promoting kura kaupapa Māori.

What are the most satisfying things for you when you see where Te Wharekura o Arowhenua is today?

There are many satisfying things; but it’s mainly the students, or raukura who have gone through the kura. I look at my own daughter Kate, who was a beginning student and is now giving back by being a registered teacher in our Wharekura. We started at Waimatua down the road and had about 30 kids to start with. It was


Education Gazette

Whaea Ani Wainui.

Whānau te reo programme


ach week, more than 90 whānau and their tamariki meet at Te Wharekura o Arowhenua for He Kura Hei Kainga – a te reo Māori language programme. “We noticed a lack of engagement with families so we have started a language programme for whānau on a Wednesday night. They have a kai and then they go away to their different levels of learning. They do an hour of learning; their children are beside them too because they carry that kaupapa back home,” says Gary. The programme, which has been running for about three years, is Tiahuia’s baby. “The ideology around He Kura Hei Kainga is the language that the tamariki learn in the akomanga [classroom], as well as the tools that the teachers use, are simply moved to the home. So what we do in the classroom is what we teach in our lessons. “The other element is that all the students come with their parents so they become the tuakana to help Mum and Dad/whānau at home. It’s also about training the students to be supportive in that role,” says Tiahuia. This year, the element of play has been integrated into the programme. “You always want your families to play together so we’re teaching key te reo phrases when playing group games, card games and board games,” she says.

“You can see our families are proud to be here and have their kids here. There’s probably been a longing for a very long time for them to have a chance to come in and learn. Why else would you send your kids if you didn’t value te reo and te ao Māori?” asks Desmond.

Big commitment

Tiahuia says He Kura Hei Kainga is a big commitment for whānau as they are expected to use te reo at home as well, but there are many benefits for them. “The bulk of our whānau come for the whanaungatanga as well – that’s super important and they

leave with some skill and better understanding of what tamariki are learning in the classroom with te reo Maori and that we are a unit of people that can on-teach. “I feel that He Kura Hei Kainga has had that ripple effect and we can row our waka a lot more effectively going in the same direction,” she says. “We teach the ākonga how to be a family and how to be proud of being Māori. Our biggest goal is to get our whānau involved with the kids – in the learning and also to not be a spectator to their child’s life,” adds Desmond.

Desmond and Tiahuia are teaching Māori whānau to be proud of being Māori.

Many benefits

Desmond Tioke (Ngāti Awa, Ngai Tuhoe) teaches a Year 5-6 class at Te Wharekura o Arowhenua and also takes a class for children at He Kura Hei Kainga. The effectiveness of the programme and literacy and numeracy progress of the tamariki is being tracked and managed through Desmond’s He Kura class. “The main goal of He Kura was so the home could actually be a learning environment where the tamaiti can become the teacher as well. Our kids can also practice te reo at home.

26 July 2021

Tukutuku Kōrero



Rich learning environment on Rakiura Stewart Island | Rakiura provides a natural playground and classroom for the children who attend New Zealand’s southernmost school.

Halfmoon Bay School's teachers enjoy the opportunities of teaching at the remote school. From left: Alison, Kath and Emily.


Education Gazette


he flight from Invercargill to Stewart Island is short, noisy and thankfully smooth. But Rakiura is a world apart. When we arrive, Halfmoon Bay School principal Kath Johnson says: “Sure you can borrow my truck – it’s parked outside, the keys are in it.” Education Gazette arrived on a Friday morning in time for the weekly kapa haka practice with Whaea Pip Hakopa, who comes across from Bluff to take te reo Māori lessons for the community on Thursday nights, and she’s at the Year 1-8 school on Friday mornings. Kath tells us the Army Band had been due to visit but was delayed because of Covid restrictions (they eventually visited for the first time ever in mid-April). There was also a regular fortnightly visit from KiwiCan leaders, who have been visiting the island and running their life values and skills programme for at least 17 years. “We really try to make sure the kids aren’t impacted by their physical isolation. It’s probably more like a childhood from the 1980s, but it’s going forward too.”

Digital and real-world opportunities

Kath says the school is “pretty big” on digital technology with its senior students. “They take different classes through the Virtual Learning Network Primary,” she says. “Last year one of my Year 8 girls did five different classes, including sign language, extension maths and French. There are a whole lot of opportunities we can open up to them through the digital world.” Rakiura’s stunning natural environment is the playground and classroom for the students at our southernmost school, and provides plenty of opportunities for them to become involved in real-world projects. Since July last year, the school has teamed up in a pilot scheme with the New Zealand Penguin Initiative and local environmental group SIRCET (Stewart Island / Rakiura Community & Environment Trust) to observe little blue penguins/kororā at Ackers Point, near Oban. Richard Seed from the Penguin Initiative was visiting to check out the project and talk to the children about their contributions to science. “We’ve possibly been lured into a false sense of security here because the kids have just been so good. Their data entry has been flawless – they’re in tune with the environment,” he says.

Long history

There’s been a school at Halfmoon Bay for about 150 years. In a label at the new Rakiura heritage centre, Roy Traill (1892-1989) remembers his school days around the turn of the 20th century. “At lunchtime the boys were off down the beach or up Mill Creek. We’d jump off the rocks and swim about, no such thing as bathing trunks... Now and then we’d have to wade right out and get a ball, or grab a dinghy from the wharf and pull it out.” Six generations of Colin Hopkin’s family have attended the school, from Colin’s maternal greatgrandmother to granddaughter Ellie, who’s in Year 4. Colin was at school from 1958 to 1965; daughter Emma attended from 1989 to 1994. “There were two classrooms. School was a lot more basic than it is now – it was reading, writing and arithmetic. It was a bit of a shock leaving the island, but you had to go to a school (Waitaki Boys’ High School). It was just putting in time until I was allowed to go fishing,” remembers Colin, who has recently retired.

Nowhere better

When Emma was at school, there were 60 or 70 students – enough for some sports teams – and she remembers a netball and rugby tour to Dunedin when she was eight as a ‘pretty major trip’. “We’re obviously still in this environment so we did get to do special camps and special trips. The older kids would always go to Mason Bay on the other side of the island, which is a full tramping trip. Younger kids go out to Māori Beach – there was a school there in Dad’s day,” she says. All children from Rakiura have to go to boarding school on the mainland from Year 9 and for many, like Emma, this leads to tertiary education and working and travelling away. “But then I never found anywhere I liked more than home, so it was always in my head that I would come back. It’s a really lovely place to bring up children. The childhood doesn’t really change much: being able to go to the beach and explore outside and having that community that looks out for all the kids too,” she says.

“We really try to make sure the kids aren’t impacted by their physical isolation. It’s probably more like a childhood from the 1980s, but it’s going forward too.” Kath Johnson

3 May 2021

Tukutuku Kōrero


Six generations of Colin's family have attended Halfmoon Bay School. From left Ellie, Emma and Colin.

“We get to do a wide range of things like going diving in the sea, we train for athletics and triathlon on the beach and the sea.” Ava, Year 6

Kate and Ava enjoy Rakiura’s gym, which is a wonderful facility for the school and community.


Education Gazette

The children agree with Emma. “I like all the opportunities like we get to go off the island, back on the island. We get to do a wide range of things like going diving in the sea, we train for athletics and triathlon on the beach and the sea,” says Ava, Year 6. “It’s cool because there are a lot of experiences here – like we do snorkelling. Earlier this week we did a wharf jump for our triathlon training and we did a survival swim in our pyjamas. We do rat trapping and stuff and the penguin cams are probably the best things we do,” says Fionn, Year 7.

In 2018, teacher Alison Fitzsimons and her family decided to have an adventure and she accepted a one-year teaching position at Halfmoon Bay School. They relocated from Cambridge and within a few months decided to make the move permanent. The two older children are now at boarding school in Invercargill and Fionn is thriving at the school. “The opportunity came up to stay and because they had so many different opportunities here and I could just see their growth in confidence and self-esteem, we did!” says Alison.

All hands on deck

Teacher workforce

The Board of Trustees tops up the funding for three teachers so the Year 7 and 8 students can have a separate class for the three days a week Kath teaches them. The community pitches in with support and fundraising. “Peter who owns the local garage has a swim squad, so Tuesday/Thursday morning they swim. We always have awesome results at the Southland and Southern Zone swimming sports,” says Kath. Every Friday, Bevan Mudie, a retired secondary school art teacher from Auckland, originally from the Catlins, volunteers to teach art. He’s assisted by another local, Mikayla Joy, who is a Fine Arts graduate. One of the largest buildings on the island is a superb gym and community hub which is used by the school and the community. Funding came from the Ministry of Education, Southland District Council and a group of locals who said ‘we want the best community centre’. Kath happily shows us around the school’s refurbishments which include a new breakout room, wide covered verandahs and double glazing. A solar system with batteries to improve their energy resilience and reduce their dependence on the island’s diesel generator has been approved in Round 2 of the Ministry’s Sustainability Contestable Fund.

Punching above weight

Kath is proud of the achievements of the children at the 36-pupil school. “The big thing for our Board of Trustees and our community is that our kids on Rakiura don’t miss out on things. So we go out of our way to make sure they’re getting the best deal they can. We think they are, ERO thinks they are,” she says. Every year Kath prepares a report for the board showing how well the children have done in a range of regional competitions. The report for 2019 showed that while they are one of the smallest, most remote schools in the Southern Zone, they came 20th out of 44 schools in the Southland Primary Schools Swimming Sports. There were top placings in the Southern Zone cross country, merit awards at the Southland Science Fair, third places in the Southland speech competition and the Otago BandQuest regional final – and more. “They definitely punch above their weight,” laughs Kath.

3 May 2021

Teacher retention is clearly not a difficulty. Education Gazette was unable to meet Bonnie Leask who had taught at Halfmoon Bay School for 32 years. Kath moved to Stewart Island when she was 15, worked away for 17 years and has been principal at Halfmoon Bay School since 2007. She delights in telling the stories of her other two staff: Emily Joy who came for an eight-week stint nine years ago and Alison Fitzsimmons who moved from Cambridge with her family for a year. Emily teaches PE and Years 3-5. “I had never been here before. I came for eight weeks! This is my first job – I knew I didn’t want to teach in a city. In the first week I was already planning on staying and just trying to see if I could get work elsewhere,” says Emily, who has married a local fisherman. Her parents and two sisters have also relocated to Rakiura. “What has kept me here? I think the relationships you can have with the students and the families and the community because the school is such a central part of the community. The opportunities the kids get are awesome. People assume you don’t get many opportunities here, but you clearly do. More so with the lower numbers, you can really get to know the children really well and cater to what they need,” explains Emily.

Nature is playground

Alison, who teaches Years 1-3, says the children are well supported and she enjoys close relationships with them and their families. “Nature is our playground. The first year I was here, they were at bush school and they had a mudslide. Half of them left their backpacks on and they came back to school like monsters. The dad who came with us was a volunteer fireman and said ‘do you want me to hose them down at the fire station?’ I waited for the parent complaints to roll in, but they were all delighted and that will be one of the kids’ favourite experiences! “As a teacher, I’ve just done far more things here and I guess it’s exciting to teach. We went to Māori Beach for a camp and they kayaked from Port William to Māori Beach and then they walked back out. Little kids can do it! The parents are behind their kids, rather than finding excuses; the kids just go. I guess the opportunities just sit really well with our values,” says Alison. “I like going to school here because it’s less people and more one on one time and you can make friends with almost the whole entire school,” says Ava.

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Māori revival on Rakiura

From the early 1800s Māori leaders of the south encouraged relationships between Māori women and newly arrived Pākehā men to maintain social control and secure trade connections. By 1840, about 140 Māori women and Pākehā men around Foveaux Strait had formed families. There’s no marae on Rakiura and it wasn’t until the opening of the new heritage centre, Te Puka o te Waka/Whare Taonga, in 2020 that a waiata, Rakiura te whenua, about the special places on the island, was composed by mana whenua and performed by the school and members of the community.

HOW IT BEGAN It all began when Whaea Pip (Waikato Tainui, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Māmoe) , who had lived on the island in 2000, contacted Kath Johnson (Ngāti Kahungunu) at the school and asked if she could give back to the community that had once supported her. “I’ve always been really interested in Māori connections. There are a lot of Māori who have an iwi, or have some Māori whakapapa on Rakiura, but very few of them are connected, know the language, know their pepeha,” says Kath. Pip was working for Ngāi Tahu to affect their education strategy in the schools around the Western Southland district. She says there’s only a small percentage of mana whenua on Rakiura and she wanted to teach te reo, tikanga and kapa haka to whānau on the island – she offered her services for nothing, as aroha. “Last year there were nine in the te reo class, now there are about 20,” says Pip. Kath will be taking a sabbatical in term 4 to focus on exploring the iwi connections of tamariki at the school. “I want to try to help them find out where their marae, maunga, awa are. I want to empower them to make connections with their iwi. I started with my iwi and at the moment I have eight nephews and nieces at the school here!” she says.

EMPOWERING EXPERIENCES Lania Edwards is mana whenua (Ngāti Māmoe ki Rakiura) and has spent most of her life on Rakiura. Fair-skinned and green-eyed, she says she didn’t feel she could identify as Māori because she didn’t look the part.

“We have rights to go muttonbirding and that had been my only link to my Māori heritage for a long time. “But then I realised that’s part of my heritage and also part of being a New Zealander, it’s important that we keep this culture alive, not just for us but for our children and their children, so they learn with us,” she says. The Edwards – Lania, Laurence (Rongawhakata, Te Aitanga a Mahaki) and their son Ngakau, helped Pip to write Rakiura te whenua for the opening of the Whare Taonga. They began learning te reo with Pip in 2019 and their command of the language, tikanga and Te Ao Māori is impressive. “We have learned kapa haka, pōwhiri, tikanga from Whaea Pip. We hosted and ran the pōwhiri for the opening of the museum. We’d never done that before. Our long-term vision is, if not a marae, a cultural centre – somewhere where we can have weekend wānanga and open it up to visitors and share. “Almost the whole school and members of the community – about 50 people in total – took part in the pōwhiri for the opening of the museum. We had four full-day wānanga just practising – it was tiring, but amazing,” says Lania.

CONNECTING TO CULTURE Lania and Laurence are making sure their son Ngakau (Year 8) is fully immersed in te ao Māori. They couldn’t be prouder when he leads the haka. “We’ve been singing waiata from the North Island and Ngāi Tahu for years. All the boys were on stage and the women were in front of us – that was quite cool supporting our wahine and being so tight as a group,” says Laurence. “I was nervous and excited. Because it was the first time I had done pōwhiri – we’d done lots of practising beforehand. Learning the proper way of doing it felt special,” adds Ngakau. Kath says about 45 per cent of children at Halfmoon Bay School identify with an iwi. She’s keen for them to grow their knowledge of te reo and tikanga Māori and hopes that Whaea Pip will be funded to work with the children and their whānau for about six wānanga days throughout the year.

“Our long-term vision is, if not a marae, a cultural centre – somewhere where we can have weekend wānanga and open it up to visitors and share.” Lania Edwards


Education Gazette

Lania, Laurence and Ngakau are involved in the revival of tikanga Māori on Rakiura.

3 May 2021

Whaea Pip travels from Bluff each week to teach te reo and kapa haka.

Tukutuku Kōrero



Warm, rich memories from long history of Te Kura Over the past 100 years The Correspondence School has undergone some remarkable transformations.


s New Zealand’s largest school and the largest state sector distance education provider in the compulsory education sector, Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura) has a unique place in the country’s educational and social history. Te Kura has been an education lifeline for many communities in its 100-year history. In 1922, The Correspondence School was established to provide lessons to approximately 100 isolated primary school children scattered throughout New Zealand. In April 1929, The Christchurch Press reported: “To meet the needs of pupils who live in places too remote to be conveniently able to attend a secondary school, the Education Department has introduced secondary school correspondence classes. Primary correspondence classes

have been in operation for some years and have proved very successful.” Today, just 500 out of a total 23,000 pupils live in remote locations like Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds and the Chatham Islands. Te Kura’s transformation over the past 100 years has taken it from The Correspondence School, largely responsible for the education of students in remote locations, to Te Kura, an online distance educator, where half the roll is ākonga Māori, and many full-time students are considered to be at risk of disengaging from education. A rich collection of taonga, including film, photographs and letters between teachers and pupils, brings Te Kura’s history to life.

Kathryn Stirling showing her mother examples of her work at Braemar Station, Aoraki/Mt Cook.


Education Gazette

Early days

From the beginning, the relationship between teachers and their pupils was integral. Based in an office in Government Buildings in Wellington, the school’s first teacher, Miss Janet MacKenzie, had the task of single-handedly guiding the school through its first year in 1922. At 45, she had a wide and varied teaching background, with experience in country schools. Speaking 30 years later, Janet recalled that in the early days the pupils had very little help compared with what would later become available. “Plenty of difficulties you see, and too much that was dull, both for the pupils and for their mothers. But how they worked, those girls and boys and mothers! By the end of the first year, they had shown that children could learn, and could make satisfactory progress, through lessons by post.” Demand for the service exceeded expectations and by the end of 1922, Janet had enrolled the first 347 students and a second teacher was employed towards the end of the year. In 1923 the first headmaster was appointed.

Relationships important

Through the decades, teachers would pay an annual visit to their pupils. They might hitch a ride with local grocers, row across estuaries, ford streams or drive across remote country roads. A 1957 nostalgia-drenched film A Letter to the Teacher shows The Correspondence School ‘in action’ with footage of the staff in Wellington and the teaching role of the parent – usually the mother – and a visit to a remote family by a teacher. The film was shown in theatres throughout the country and nominated for inclusion in the Berlin Film Festival. Letters were an important lifeline and Janet MacKenzie was no doubt thrilled to receive a tribute from a grateful parent: ‘Thank you very much for your kind interest in my girlie. I was beginning to despair of her ever doing anything with her lessons, as she never seemed to take the slightest interest in them. Then your letter came and did more than I ever could. The tears were very near the surface when she finished reading it… it is really wonderful how the correspondence scheme has taken on, and it certainly fills a long-felt want, as education has been the one great drawback in the backblocks.”

In the 1940s, the Correspondence School provided broadcast te reo Māori lessons. Here ākonga from Te Waipounamu Girls’ College were taking dictation during a Correspondence School te reo lesson.

“Thank you very much for your kind interest in my girlie. I was beginning to despair of her ever doing anything with her lessons ... Then your letter came and did more than I ever could … it certainly fills a long-felt want, as education has been the one great drawback in the back-blocks.” Grateful parent

Wide ranging success

In 1939, the assistant director of education, Dr Clarence Beeby, reported that his department was continually receiving enquiries for information about the running of The Correspondence School from all parts of the world. “Only a few weeks ago the department had an enquiry from Finland. The authorities there were investigating the question of establishing a correspondence school for refugee children from Spain,” he said.

18 October 2021

Kathryn Stirling collecting the mailbag at her remote home near Aoraki Mount Cook.

Tukutuku Kōrero


The familiar upbeat music that prefaced Correspondence School radio programmes played in remote homes and schools up and down the country introduced a 1992 programme about the 1947/8s polio pandemic. Various former students and teachers shared recollections of the school closures during the 1948 polio epidemic and the institution of The Correspondence School curriculum. Several students recalled Correspondence School homework, their isolation from school and friends and the extended school holidays. The school had also played a role during an earlier polio epidemic and two serious outbreaks of influenza. A 1956 film about The Correspondence School featured a range of adult students who studied with the school, including public service employees, residents of Pacific Island nations, new migrants and prisoners. Books and supplies were dispatched from a warehouse in Petone. “There were ‘pickers’ who would scan a book and send it out, also science equipment, art supplies etc,” says Te Kura chief executive, Mike Hollings. “We would send out pigs’ ears and clippers for agriculture courses. Often the clippers wouldn’t be returned, or less expensive ones returned from the farm. Beautiful woodwork sets with hammers, nails and saws were also sent out,” he remembers.

including having its own broadcasting suite up until the 1990s, and now through a digital environment. In 2011, Te Kura stepped into the breach when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck the Canterbury region on 22 February. For the first time, Te Kura made many learning resources available online and sent thousands of booklets to learning hubs in Christchurch, which enabled students to continue their schooling. In September 2020, Cabinet approved funding of up to $2.7 million for the Ministry of Education to expand existing Te Kura services to Auckland NCEA students during Covid-19 Level 4 lockdowns, and during the most recent lockdown in 2021, a new emergency enrolment gateway was created to support students affected by the Covid-19 disruptions. Te Kura has also run its Summer School for the past seven years to help students who require a few NCEA credits to progress to further study, training or employment. To celebrate Te Kura’s centenary, Education Gazette will feature an article in early 2022 about Te Kura today.

Winds of change

For almost 80 years the school stood firm; confident in its purpose and boosted by the sure knowledge that exam results showed its students were not disadvantaged. However, the winds of educational change – the Tomorrow’s Schools reforms, along with upheaval in New Zealand’s economic fortunes – brought worrying times for the school, with a dwindling number of children living in isolated areas, and a significant drop in national exam pass rates, largely due to the enrolment of increasing numbers of disaffected students. In 2004, the Government described the school as “an 80-year-old New Zealand icon”, but said it was time to explore repositioning the school, so it more effectively met the needs of students in the 21st century. At that time the school provided distance education at early childhood, primary and secondary level to more than 20,000 students, about half of whom were also enrolled at other institutions. Today, Te Kura is regionalised with learning advisors and teachers grouped into five regional teams and offices throughout Aotearoa. Te Ara Pounamu, Te Kura’s curriculum, provides better individual support, flexible real-world learning based on a student’s interests, passions and potential, and the ability to learn where and when they like.

Remote learning expertise

Mike Hollings says that from the beginning The Correspondence School has been at the forefront of different forms of remote learning from postal to audio,


Education Gazette

Letters to younger students helped to build close relationships with their teachers.

Read this article online to enjoy a selection of video and audio that celebrate the history of Te Kura.

The school in Wellington was a hive of activity, with a large number of support staff in charge of dispatching lessons and resources, such as science equipment and woodwork sets.

18 October 2021

Tukutuku Kōrero


High country learning Three generations of the Aspinall family from Mt Aspiring Station were educated through The Correspondence School. The Matukituki River and a 50-kilometre-long gravel road to Wanaka imposed some isolation for the Aspinall family. But today, the family home has been relocated and the latest generation of the family attend school in Wanaka due to improved roading and transport.

and the teacher and the inspector had to walk through. They were in their Wellington clothes but they took it in good heart. I gave them lunch and we got on with the day and I remember they spent quite a bit of time with the kids,” remembers Sue.

Amy, who married the first farming Aspinall, Jack, supervised her children’s correspondence education and early examples of their work appeared in the school’s annual magazine, The Postman, in the 1920s.

Sue’s son, Randall Aspinall, was a student from 1986-1993. His experience of distance education differs from that of his father’s generation.

Her daughter-in-law, Phyllis Aspinall, supervised her four children’s education during the 1960s and 70s. Her commitment to The Correspondence School included many years as a member of the Parents’ Association.

“My sisters, Catie and Rachal, and I are the third generation in the family to do correspondence. We had it much easier than my father and his father. When they were school age, the house was on the other side of the river and it was much more difficult to get into town,” recalls Randall.

Phyllis’s daughter-in-law, Sue, who married her oldest son, John, also came to terms with the difficulties of highcountry living. A trained teacher, she supervised her three children’s education for 14 years. She says she knew only a little about The Correspondence School at that time.

“It was very flexible doing correspondence – I remember doing some of the work out on the farm. I think the flexibility of it became ingrained and must have helped towards how I feel today that if you get stuck in and get things done you get rewarded.

“Generally, I thought it was a wonderful institution for distance families – although I had no idea what that ‘distance’ meant before I married John!”

“Mum was a trained teacher and we did our lessons from 8am-12am every day. If you worked really hard and did all your work in three days, you would have time to yourself for the rest of the week – that was the best part.

Sue says it was really special when the school’s teachers were able to visit them at Mt Aspiring, although the visits were not always without incident. “In 1988, the teacher came to visit us with an inspector. We’d had rain nearly every day that October and there had been a slip in the lagoon. John went down to meet them,


Education Gazette

“Being part of The Correspondence School – there is a feeling that it’s a bit different – people are usually interested if they know that’s what you did. The Correspondence School is a bit of an icon in the high country and other remote areas – it was part of what we did,” he says.

Randall and Sue Aspinall at Mt Aspiring Station.

18 October 2021

Tukutuku Kōrero