Māori charter schools haka to stay open

By Leah Te Whata

Te Kāpehu Whetū is the first and last Māori charter school to perform at a national secondary level as they face the challenge of transitioning to a character state school.

In a post-performance interview with Te Kāea, female leader, Waimahana Henare said, “My heart is still pumping because we achieved what we'd set out to do in the realm of Hine Rēhia and Tāne Rore.”

Male leader Te Aranga Hopa says, “It was changing, it changed my whole perspective of kapa haka leading a group.”

They've applied to become a character state school following the change of law. Kapa haka tutor Tatai Henare says despite a change of model, they’re determined to continue what they’ve started.

“No matter whether it'll be called a charter school or mainstream our values remain the same we want to emerge the students within the teachings of the 28th Māori Battalion. Only the descendants of those who served are capable of delivering that. They are the elders leading the transfer of knowledge.”

Six of the eleven partnership schools have 87-100 per cent Māori rolls and a Treaty of Waitangi claim has been lodged over closures.

Hopa says, “I don't have much words for it, I just feel like they (the government) don't understand us.”

“We won't give up, we'll keep fighting for our school”, adds Henare.

So far, only Albany's Vanguard Military School has been confirmed to be keeping its doors open.