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Moerewa school closure – Hilda Halkyard-Harawira
Kia ora ra, Letter to the Editor
Moerewa has been hit with the lock out of workers from the Affco plant by the millionaire food production company Talleys. 7 weeks later, on TV last night, the Secretary of Education announced that the Board of Trustees have been sacked and a commissioner has been appointed for Moerewa School . The main offence of Moerewa School community being -their audacity and self-belief to set high academic goals for their children in a decile 1 school.
Moerewa School gained secondary status to year 10 when they refused to hand their children to local secondary schools which they considered did not perform well enough to their expecations. Moerewa parents chose not to ship their children away from home to Whangarei or private boarding schools and strengthen their own base. They were a success story on day one.
The Secretary of Education criticised the senior curriculum for year 11-13 for not being able to deliver a wide breadth of curriculum. If I was to define basic success in educational achievement for Maori – it would be that all Maori children defy mediocrity set in public schools and achieve 80 credits in NCEA 1 by year 11 or earlier. Most Maori children disengage at 16 with less than 12 credits. If a child succeeds in NCEA 1- 3- they are less likey to go to jail. Money should be invested in kids at school – not in more prisons.
How to deliver a wide range of curriculum subjects is a constant reality of many small rural schools- however with new technology – subjects are able to be delivered by video- conference and interactive workshops with Correspondence School. The reality is – it is better for a small school to grow five subjects well than deliver 9 poorly. However small schools have to be creative to ensure their students gain a variety of experiences in their education to prepare students emotionally and academically for their career pathways.
Did the Secretary of Education offer to work with the successful Board of Trustees to gain final step of accreditation to teach senior students? This would enable the Board to employ other teachers to deliver a few more curriculum subjects. In kura kaupapa schooling, once our school achieved wharekura status, we then had to meet compliances to gain NZQA accreditation- this is an ongoing audit process which keeps us up to date with new NCEA expectations. Generally teaching staff are given 6 months to a year to meet those compliances.
MP Hekia Parata should see Moerewa School as an oasis of opportunity and embrace this model school as a possible template for other communities. It is ironic that the National Government has opened up the door for charter schools to be run by business people with little or no educational experience; but slams a school that is delivering better academic achievement than a few more established schools. I would ask that Tau Henare work with his colleagues to assist Moerewa School gain their full secondary status.
I have watched this school at sporting events and the Tai Tokerau Kapa Haka Festival this year with admiration. If you saw the imagery on TV – the students were well groomed in their assembly- this is a clear sign of school and personal pride. Congratulations to the principal and the Board of Trustees for being a flower in the desert of educational paucity. Now Tai Tokerau will have to watch while some commisioner comes in and botches up the smooth running of the Moerewa school in Ngati Hine- just to satisfy the institutional racism of the Ministry of Education. Keri Ihimaera Milne is a principal of integrity- representing the huge expectations of her community- and is to be commended for wanting more for her tauira. Kura Kaupapa Maori is one model of success- the Crown will have to get used to the fact there are other successful Maori models in the communities- led by inspiring leaders.
For the students of Moerewa- celebrate your success, hold fast to your chest the belief in your school. E Taiohi ma. He pai to koutou kura , ahakoa nga piki me nga heke , whakanuia to kura, to poari, o kaiako me to whanau . Kia kaha , kia manawanui.
Former principal of a great school
Kei te kainga
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