New look comes with new plan for Far North kura kaupapa Māori

By D'Angelo Martin

A kura kaupapa Māori in the Far North is delighted with the latest $800,000 renovations of its wharekura, which principal Te Iri Rangi Tawhara says have been a long time coming.

TTKM o Te Rangi Āniwaniwa Wharekura in Kaitaia has renewed its classrooms to cater to more than 80 students and has also restructured its learning incentives to meet the aspirations of the students.

The students walk through the hallways of their school with smiles on their faces as they embrace the newly renovated classrooms, which have been well overdue for improvement. The principal of the school Te Iri Rangi Tawhara says, "It's been 20 years or so that we've been waiting patiently for these renovations to come into fruition. However, the wait now is over."

From the $800,000 renovations, the wharekura now has new classrooms, a new staff area, new toilets and bathroom, and a new kitchen as well. The renovations took 10 weeks to complete to create a safe learning environment for the descendants of Muriwhenua.

New classrooms at the kuru kaupapa Māori

Teachers, students, and whānau met at the school at the break of dawn this morning for the opening of the newly built classrooms of the college.

Pene Tawhara who is a former student at Te Rangi Āniwaniwa and is now a teacher says the school and the students are lucky.

"These students are fortunate to have the resources and the facilities that will ultimately progress their learning outcomes. When I was attending this kura, we didn't have much and our classrooms were rundown. But we made do from what we had at the time."

The school's head boy, Cody Paparoa, says "I am very happy and very fortunate to be attending this school but also just overwhelmed with the renovations, a safe learning environment for me and the rest of the students."

TKKM o Te Rangi Aniwaniwa will be piloting a new learning structure "Te Toitūtanga". This practical approach will allow the school to consider and to nurture early the aspirations of each individual.

"We won't be focusing too much on your typical school subjects such as English and Maths. They will still be incorporated in the school's curriculum but we wanted to put a priority on enhancing what the kids are passionate about," Pene Tawhara says.

Principal Te Iri Rangi Tawhara explains what the structure looks like. "Toitūtanga will look like this: "Every Monday and Wednesdays the kids will arrive at school, have their assembly and then it's straight into Niwa Tupua which is physical activity that focuses on the pillars of the body: Taha Tinana, Taha Wairua, Taha Hinengaro and Taha Whānau. On Thursdays, the school focuses on what they want to pursue when they finish school and Friday is Kapa Haka for the whole day."

 Another of the rebuilt classrooms

Head girl Alysha Kapa says "The support from the teachers for us to pursue our passion is awesome. All under the Te Aho Matua, for them to provide outcomes in te ao Māori and te ao Pākehā is a privilege."

Aside from that, the principal of the school Te Iri Rangi Tawhara says that this new learning structure will enable students to flourish and conquer obstacles and to be future leaders for their family, tribe and community.

"I can see better education outcomes from this new learning structure because they'll feel comfortable and confident in conquering the obstacles in life, only if we prepare them and help them along the way."

Moving furniture and resources into the classrooms is still to be done. Next week the school will start on its new learning structure and put the new classrooms to good use.