Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced that Te Wharekura o Ngati Rongomai is to receive $10mil to have its own permanent property for the first time and become an established wharekura in its own right.
After a 10-year fight for recognition, Te Wharekura o Ngāti Rongomai has secured stand-alone status.
"It's settled, I can say, alongside my partner Renata, that the school has achieved official status,” says Tukiterangi Curtis.
Te Wharekura o Ngāti Rongomai will be known as a 'Designated Character' school. Curtis says ten years ago, there was a dire need for te reo Māori to be supported within the families of Ngāti Rongomai.
“It's about teaching te reo Māori, the noble language of this country, to our children of Ngāti Rongomai, the foundation of our school is te reo Māori.”
Te Wharekura o Ngāti Rongomai was set up in 2008 as a satellite unit of Te Wharekura o Te Kaokaoroa o Patetere.
Curtis says financial support is something they’re not accustomed to.
“It will relieve the pressures, the poverty, and we may see smiles on the faces of our students when they see receive new resources that my partner Renata and I hope to attain for them.”
All members of the Māori medium language immersion tribal school are connected to the eponymous ancestor, Rakeiao, of whom Ngāti Rongomai descend.
“We need to take great care of the descendants of our ancestors and nurture them within a Māori worldview, in the same way that our ancestors were raised.”
Tukiterangi Curtis says they have the option to build new classrooms and improve the learning environment of the students.