The uncertain future ahead of Turakina Māori Girls College has left the Board of Trustees devastated.
According to a statement issued by the Board, “On 29th and 30th May this year we celebrated 110 years of experience in shaping and supporting young Maori women for success. We reflected on the seismic shifts our school has lived through – from a time in which our students were groomed to be “good women, good wives and good mothers” to today when we expect excellence in every aspect of academic, cultural, sporting and spiritual development.”
The Minister of Education, Hekia Parata announced a consultation process regarding the school yesterday and submissions will be heard during the next four weeks before a decision is made on the future of the College.
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.
An August 2012 Education Review Office 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."
Trish Biddle-Amoroa of the Turakina Board of Trustees adds, “While we recognise the desire of Government to trial new ideas from overseas such as in the charter school concept, we would hope that fine educational establishments such as Turakina can also be a priority. Schools are not social laboratories: they provide a vital environment for our children to receive the support, the guidance, the expertise and the experience required to create the leadership required for today’s graduates.”
“Turakina has always appreciated the support of local iwi, Ngati Apa/Nga Wairiki and Whanganui, who have invested in a tried and true model. They value the ‘tuakana-teina’ concept of pastoral care which provides students with the grounding from which to apply themselves to study.”
The Board and supporters of the kura have called on the “old girls” of Turakina to step up and show their support and do what they can to ensure the school remains open.
“This is make or break time: we are asking the Government, the church and our wider community to return to their first love for this beautiful little school and to follow through with the investment required to fulfil the hopes and dreams of the girls and whānau who seek a Turakina education to create a future we can all be proud of.”
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.