Turakina school community emotional over possible closure

By Heta Gardiner

The future of Turakina Māori Girls' College is in doubt with the Ministry of Education proposing to close the school in the wake of a declining roll.

Turakina is a state-integrated Presbyterian Māori girls' college boarding school in Marton.

The schools roll has dropped from 152 in 2003 to around 54 this year.

Parents of students at Turakina Māori Girls College, emotional following news the schools future is in doubt.

After 100 years of operation, the school prides itself on excellence of education for young Māori women.

Education Minister Hekia Parata says ongoing financial and governance issues, as well as the declining roll, have created a situation that is potentially detrimental to the education of Turakina's current students.

The August 2012 report identified concerns about the school's performance for students, governance and provisions in the hostels.

As a result, the roll of the school has dropped from 152 in 2003, to 54 this year.

Parata says, "These schools face many challenges, like many boarding schools do, however despite which school it is, my main concern is that Māori students are doing well."

Turakina is one of six remaining Māori boarding schools, along with Te Aute in Hawke's Bay, Wesley College in Pukekohe, Hato Paora in Feilding, Hato Petera in Auckland and St Joseph's in Napier.

Parents are hoping former students can support the kura through this tough time.

Kere Mihaere says, “Old girls from the school. Where are you?”

Trish Biddle-Amoroa says, “It's more than just being here from 93-96. It's about being here for my mum who was here in the 1970s, for her whānau that were here in the 1960s and 50s.”

Turakina Māori Girls College has provided a christian and academic education for future Māori mothers. Education Minister Hekia Parata said submissions will be heard during the next four weeks before a decision is made on the future of Turakina Māori Girls College.

Biddle-Amoroa says, “It's not about dwelling on it, it's about what are we gonna do to move forward.”

If the school closes, it won't be just the teachers and students who are affected, but the wider community of Marton.

The report stipulates that the school has until September 11 to make a case, at which point things will be re-evaluated.