Māori approaches to education finally coming to fruition for whānau in Te Waipounamu

Hot on the heels of the latest evaluation providing evidence that Whānau Ora is being recognised as a grassroots movement that has the potential to create widespread social change, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is thrilled to celebrate two magnificent advances being realised in an education context.

The first reason for celebration is Tuwheratanga o Te Pa Wananga – the opening of a new kura in Blenheim.  Next Friday 22 June Omaka Marae and Renwick School open Te Pā Wananga a brand new bilingual satellite class of Renwick School based at Omaka Marae. 

Omaka Marae was one of the front-runner entities commissioned by Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu in the first wave of funding in 2016.  Part of their initial vision was to develop a feasibility study to establish their own kura based on the success of their after-school model, Pa Kids.  Te Pā Wananga will be the only primary school aged bilingual education option in Blenheim. There is one kohanga reo still operating but no primary or secondary school te reo Maori options for whānau. Te Pā Wananga is helping to enliven the vision ‘Pa Ora Pa Wananga’ and also provide a foundation for language revitalisation in Blenheim.

The second reason for jubilation is the long-awaited news for Christchurch kura, Te Pā o Rākaihautū, that their proposal to build their own pā wānanga has finally been approved by the Ministry of Education.  Almost seven years to the day from when their whānau submitted an application to establish Te Pā to the Ministry of Education in April 2011, approval has been given to firstly secure the land and then design and build the pā.

Rangimarie Parata Takurua, the Chairperson, is realistic about the commitment that will still be required by whānau to keep building the pā of their dreams. She said “We have been operating from a temporary school site since 2015 and looking forward now to purpose building a full pā wānanga  - a learning village that caters for the whole whanau from early childhood to tertiary and provides full wraparound services and whanau enterprise on site. 

 “The journey to date has been a true test of endurance and perseverance. One good thing about how long it has taken is that we have had a lot of time to think and dream about what our pā might look and feel like. The decisions we make today will have long-term repercussions as the pā will need to be built to last beyond this generation and even the next” said Ms Parata Takurua.

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu was established out of the aspirations and determination of the nine iwi of Te Waipounamu; Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Ngāti Tama, Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Koata, Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Rangitāne and Ngāti Rārua. It was formed in March 2014 as a legal partnership to reflect the aspirations of Te Waipounamu iwi for whānau.

“I am so proud of both these kura communities at Omaka and Te Pā o Rākaihautū, which are essentially about passionate, driven whānau trying to create solutions to challenges as they see them,” said Helen Leahy, Pouārahi of Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu.   “We congratulate the kura – and in particular their whānau – for the ground-breaking difference they are making to consolidate a stronger future for their tamariki mokopuna”.

“Our evaluations are telling us that Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu model of commissioning is highly participatory and is based on the premise that people at the grassroots level already have the ideas, knowledge, tools, and capabilities required to create their own innovative solutions to the challenges they experience in their communities,” said Ms. Leahy.  

The research also demonstrates that increased participation, in turn, boosts efficiency, transparency, accountability and community ownership.  Whānau Ora initiatives contribute to present understandings of economic and social well-being through a collective, ancestral, or Māori way of living; providing a unique opportunity for an indigenous system and networked approach.

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