Wharekura for Tainui kura kaupapa after 30 years

By Taroi Black

Students from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Ara Rima in Hamilton returned to kura from holiday as a wharekura for Year 9 and Year 10 was finally established.

The Ministry of Education gave the signal for a wharekura based on the high number of enrolments already secured in the kura. This means teaching under the new wharekura rules can extend to include students in year 7 and 8.

Tumuaki (principal) Tony Walker was proud of the wider community who “fought to keep our Year 7 and Year 8”, fearing that their kids would continue to switch from kura kaupapa (Māori immersion education medium) to mainstream schooling.

So far, there are 229 students enrolled in Te Ara Rima and there is a waiting list of more than 200 kids. The ministry has already delivered two new modular classrooms and will begin work with the kura in the coming months to provide a further four classrooms.

Mātauranga success

This year, significant progress has seen a lift in education for tamariki Māori following the Education Review Office report Te Kura Huanui, which proved students who are enrolled in kura kaupapa have a success rate that’s higher than tamariki Māori who are in mainstream kura.

"Kura are a vital part of the education system and are delivering strong results for ākonga, and we know there are more and more school-aged Māori students learning or wanting to learn in Māori,” ministry education infrastructure service head Kim Shannon says.

It's a great turnaround for the kura considering it had seen a decline in enrolments of 80 students and low student achievement. When Walker was appointed tumuaki in 2015, the Education Review Office noted improvements because the board was committed to ensure students would pass their grades.  

Te Ara Rima was the first reo kura kaupapa in Hamilton during the 1980s. It was a move that followed mokopuna who attended the school’s kōhanga reo who wanted further education in te ao Māori. It is a kura ā-iwi that represents its local Ngāti Wairere iwi, its culture and heritage.

Parents and the community had waited for some time to establish a wharekura, Walker says.