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Church looks at viability of re opening St Stephen’s school


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By Yvonne Tahana (NZ Herald)

A year-long viability study into whether to reopen two Anglican Maori boarding schools is under way.

St Stephen’s School, which opened in 1844 at Bombay, and Parnell’s Queen Victoria School, which opened in 1901, had long histories of producing national leaders but closed at the turn of the century for financial and performance reasons.

John Fairbrother, chairman of St Stephen’s and Queen Victoria School’s Trust Board, said that in the past three years, the board had focused on clearing debt from its books.

He declined to identify a figure but said it was now in a position to focus fully on the church being involved in Maori education in the region again.

What form that took would be clearer after a report due in November from a four-member feasibility working group. It included educationists and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira.

The group is tasked with looking at whether the school sites are still suitable, alternative locations and educational models.

Mr Fairbrother said he was excited about the work. “What we’re seeking to do is to find the best way of becoming a provider of education for young Maori.

“What that will look like, that’s why we’ve got the feasibility study. At the moment it’s a blank slate.”

Former pupils had been pushing for a reopening since the doors were shut and would be consulted.

“The board is acutely aware of the interest of alumni and others for getting something cranked up and running in a serious way.”

About 60 per cent of the trust board’s assets are tied up in the properties. St Stephen’s has been used by the Fire Service, police and army for training purposes but also had a problem with vandalism.

Tai Tokerau Bishop Kito Pikaahu said the church had always had an educational mission. It was important to be mindful that any new institution couldn’t live in the past.

“There’s a single word – excellence – that is what this is about.”

Former pupils include Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell, King Tuheitia, tennis great Ruia Morrison-Davy and Dame Mira Szaszy.

(2) Comments

  1. Jayson

    St Stephens should never have closed in the first place...... whanau and friends went there,it's not too late,all for it reopening in the future.

  2. Hana Hemopo

    Tena koe, I am Hana Hemopo, a former QVS old girl and admin for the Queen Vic Old Girls page on Facebook, of which there are almost 300 members. Whilst the Vic old girls are enthusiastic about this feasibility study, the question needs to be asked. . .why is there no QVS old girl on the official feasibility study group? Hone Harawira is a Tipene Old Boy. I am sure that he would be the first to tautoko the inclusion of a Vic Old Girl. Was this an oversight by the Maori Anglican Church or by the trustboard? And if so, why? The land that QVS stands on in Parnell is worth in excess of 14 million dollars apparently. The women who attended Queen Vic, and their families who supported the kura financially when it was still operating, deserve the respect of having at least one Vic Old Girl on this study group, in an official capacity. The question is asked with all due respect. There is nowhere on the internet to access this information - nowhere that lists who is currently on the trustboard or who is on the feasibility study group. Nowhere to access info on when the trustboard meets and what is being decided. To date, there has been little to no consultation with the QVS old girls as a whole, and as a result, we are lagging behind in information, resources and having our voices acknowledged and heard, whilst the Tipene old boys are quite advanced in their endeavours. The Queen Vic Old Girls want to be included. And we want our views to be represented first hand, not unofficially, not 'as and when' someone may or may not be able to attend a hui at short notice or on the basis of whether you know someone in the know. In this day and age, transparency and proper consultation with the Wahine Maori of QVS should not be an oversight or an issue that is raised after the event.

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