Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Manawatū celebrates 30 years

By Mahina Hurkmans

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Manawatū is celebrating its 30th anniversary and is paying homage to those who fought tirelessly for its establishment.

In its first term, the Ministry of Education did not provide the first kura kaupapa established south of the Bombay Hills with any support or resources until Toni Waho and Penny Poutu took it upon themselves to approach the ministry to request the required resources. 

Poutu says at that time the ministry had set the kura up to fail so to see it flourish 30 years later is a major accomplishment.

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Manawatū allows children to flourish. 

Former student Pita Savage says the kura is, "A place where Māori children can grow up on their own land as a Māori."

The kura was established when whānau realised there was no school to send their children to after they finished kōhanga, now the school is 30 years old.

"In the early days, there was nowhere to send our children when they finished Kōhanga Reo," former principal Denise Marshall says. 

Former teacher Manaaki Tibble says, "I was here in 1993, I remember the creek where Te Hotumanawa Marae is. In those times, there were twenty students, now there are 80."

It was not an easy task to get to this stage.

"They had no belief that we could establish a reo Māori school. They thought we would go broke, our children will fall behind or they won't get jobs or be able to be independent in this world. But they have proved them wrong," Penny Poutu of Ngāti Maniapoto says.

"We received no funding or resources but the parents and the community fought to keep this school going."

Despite the struggles, Te Reo has strengthened within the students.

"It's come to the time now that Māori turn to their language," Savage says.

"It has grown and it still has some growing to do but now maybe we should focus on the structure of the language."

They also hope to establish a Wharekura in the future.