Ngāti Awa school celebrates 125 years

Situated just outside of the Whakatāne township, Te Pāroa School has educated generations.

Former student Leonie Simpson says, “My grandfather was the first of us to come here in my immediate family, then my father, me and now my daughter.” 

Reflecting on 125 years, Simpson says there was once a time when the school was not rich in Māori culture.

“When I was here on the first day of the week a teacher would come in and teach us Māori culture but now the Māori language is strong here- and our identity.” 

At its current site the school has more than 250 students.

Board chair Lytre Hall attended the school too, he says the generations continue to come.

“There are quite a few families at the kura that have five generations or more who are presently attending the kura so the names just keep popping up, the same names that keep [coming] through the school over the years.” 

The school, which has produced alumni such as Māori academic Miria Simpson, was designated a Special Character school in 2013.

“We go right up to year seven and eight and we are trying to maintain our roll and see what we can do to retain them at our kura- and to see what other schools are doing as well,” says Hall.

The 125 year celebrations continue over the weekend.