'We can buy more computers' - happy Ōtara tumuaki

By Taroi Black

A kura kaupapa based in Ōtara in Auckland has made "significant progress" and is to be released from the Ministry of Education's intervention after almost two decades. 

While it's still school holidays, tauira from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Piripono Te Kura Whakahou ki Ōtara will return in term 3 with their heads held high. That's because the limited statutory manager has been revoked and replaced with a specialist advisor "who is helping the board through this transition phase," ministry acting deputy secretary Jann Marshall says.    

The ministry says most schools in Aotearoa run without any form of intervention but some ministry concerns haven't been resolved. This was the case with the kura kaupapa in Ōtara, having been through six principals, four commissioners and two limited statutory managers since the school's establishment in 2004. 

It cost the kura $40,000 to pay for a limited statutory manager who was responsible for financial management and employment processes, including statutory interventions, which support schools at risk of financial hardship, which ultimately impacts on students' educational performance.

Tumuaki (principal) Marama Hune was in complete shock when she got the news, "We're very lucky because we can buy more computers for our kids."

She contacted Te Ao Māori News two years ago after walking into her role as the kura's closure was imminent as it faced a huge deficit of over $100,000. At the time she needed the ministry to appoint a new limited statutory manager as the previous one hadn't returned back to work. 

Now the kura is back on its feet after the ministry paid off the debt, Hune will work closely with the Education Review Office to establish a wharekura (secondary school unit). So far, it has an enrolment of 80 tamariki and is expecting several more to come through from kōhanga reo in Term 3.  

"Since I started the whānau wanted to have a voice at the table to fulfil their goals and aspirations. Now, it's time for that," Hune says.