Ministry of Education announces funding to create kaupapa Maori school in Marlborough

OLIVER LEWIS – June 29 2017

A school with a kaupapa Maori world view as its guiding philosophy will be created in Marlborough after almost a decade without any bilingual options in the region.

Omaka Marare has long held aspirations for a school taught in both te reo Maori and English, now with the help of Renwick School the project is set to become a reality.

Iwi and education leaders have described the move as a significant development that reflects the cultural landscape and need for bilingual education in Marlborough.

The Ministry of Education announced on Tuesday it would provide $1 million in funding to create two classrooms at Omaka Marae, just outside Blenheim, as a satellite of Renwick School.

Primary and intermediate aged pupils would enrol with Renwick School, but their classes would be taught at Omaka Marae, where they would learn in both te reo Maori and English.

Omaka Marae general manager Kiley Nepia said the announcement was huge, coming as it did after two years of discussions with the ministry.

Seed funding from Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu had been used to develop the proposal, and the marae had also held hui with whanau to seek their input, he said.

The marae had partnered with Renwick School to deliver the concept after the ministry advised them it would be easier to realise with an existing education provider.

Nepia said the school would be called Te Pa Wananga, or the learning village. A kaupapa Maori world view would be at the heart of everything the school did, he said.

“The type of environment, the type of curriculum and charter we’re going to develop is going to provide a place for our kids to really learn and engage meaningfully with their culture,” he said.

Nepia said the success of programmes like Pa Kids, held weekly at the marae to teach tamariki and their parents te reo Maori and Maori culture, showed there was an appetite for the school.

“When you’re able to bring them into that environment their cultural confidence grows and they do better – if we can extend that to the [Te] Pa Wananga model we know it will be beneficial for our tamariki Maori,” he said.

“We know that Te Pa Wananga will be the incubator of the next generation of our leadership. These kids will become the navigators, the leaders of our tribes, of our families and of our marae.”

The ultimate goal of Te Pa Wananga was to create a seamless learning environment from early childhood through to tertiary “where succeeding as Maori and being Maori is not an extra curriculum activity, but is at the centre and heart of everything we do”.

Nepia and Renwick School principal Simon Heath said there had been a lack of bilingual education options in Marlborough ever since bilingual units at Whitney Street School, Bohally Intermediate School, and Waikawa Bay School closed down.

Heath said Marlborough was the only region in the country without bilingual or total immersion options, so Te Pa Wananga would be a “significant development for education in Marlborough, which really is embracing the true cultural landscape – at last there’s a choice”.

The Renwick School principal said the next step was developing a curriculum, seeking pre-enrolments and recruiting a teacher. The school would also have to alter its zoning policy to allow students from outside the area to enrol.

Heath said the aim was to start the school with 16 to 20 students, which would generate one teacher. The $1m in funding from the ministry would cover the cost of two new classrooms, however Heath said a discussion needed to be had about “whether the classrooms come first or the kids”.

“Because it might be we can have the kids on site working in that space we’ve already got from the start of next year, but the classrooms might not be up and running,” he said.

Heath said that while Renwick School had partnered with the marae to provide “governance, management and professional support” the end goal was to “create a working model” which would eventually become a standalone school.

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