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North Canterbury school transforming the education system for Māori

Halle Taite-Pitama
Rangiora High School Sign JPG 1
Rangiora High School Sign  Halle Pitama

Rangiora High School is putting action into gear for the national curriculum refresh.

In February 2021 associate Ministers of Education, Jan Tinetti and Kelvin Davis announced the national curriculum for schooling will be refreshed over the next few years.  

A part of the Ministry of Education's curriculum refresh plan, the new Aotearoa New Zealand's histories content has come in to play from the beginning of 2023, but schools will have until the beginning of 2026 to work towards implementation of mātauranga Māori.  

Principal Bruce Kearney says he has never been in education where there has been successful outcomes for all Māori.

Te Kura Tuarua o Rangiora is currently in a really strong position to be able to move forward, but is only just starting its journey, and it is about shifting from capacity to pedagogy and practice.  

Recently the school has started to engage with wāhine Māori from the local Tuahiwi Education Committee to work specifically on improving board practice for Māori whānau and learners.  

Kearney mentions that the first thing he did when becoming principal was ask for a new whare to be built.  

For him it's about bringing the culture back, having a cultural centre at the heart of the kura and not hidden away like it has been over the years.

"We're really culturally capable, but that just gets our Māori students to the table, we still need them to eat. The outcomes we want are for Māori is to leave school with qualifications to allow them to be better and to go further." 

Current Whare JPG
Current Whare Halle Pitama
New Whare Design JPG
New Whare Design Photo supplied by: Rangiora High School

The whare will be a new place for all 238 Māori students along with other ākonga, students to call home.

There are hopes that the build will be complete by 2024.  

Another focus for the school is working on growing capacity for their Māori students by hiring Māori teachers where ever they possibly can, and paying for some who don’t have qualifications to better connect with their Māori students.  

Deputy Principal Paula McDonald is passionate about all things Māori and is currently a part of a programme called Te Ahu o Te Reo alongside other Rangiora High School teachers.  

The programme helps to develop a deeper understanding of tikanga Māori, te reo Māori and te ao Māori.  

"It's important that we are ensuring our kaiako understand why they're culturally responsive, we want all of our students to see themselves in the context that they are learning." 

A number of teachers are also working on making new kapa haka uniform for students that they can feel proud to stand in.  

She says it is about making sure our rangatahi Māori feel the aroha that we have for them. 

Head of Faculty Rebecca Sweeney-McKee says she has already noticed since Te Tiriti of Waitangi coming in to effect this year, Māori students are engaging better within the classroom 

There is a huge amount of work to be done but leadership are encouraging teachers to unpick their curriculum, where they shift practice and weave in the Māori body of knowledge to give it the equal status that it deserves.