Topics: Education, Youth

Matariki brings new light to Takaanini School

By Talisa Kupenga
  • Auckland

Matariki brings new beginnings to Takaanini School with the launch of its first pepeha today. The decile one school has had a rough past but it's building a brighter future for its students through Māori cultural foundations and a new identity.

Matariki shines a new light on Takaanini School.

Head girl Jessica Fergusson says "It brings us together as one because we are all one family. It's a creative way of bringing all the children together, so we're all happy together and we know where we're from."

Two years ago the school was disconnected from its community, had issues with youth gangs, bad behaviour, a lack of role models and some of the poorest grades in the country, but the school has battled hard to change all that.

Principal Margaret Aikman says "over the last two years we have worked on all those fronts. We've worked on improving student behaviour for their learning, on raising their achievement levels, improving teaching and learning in classrooms and we've worked on bringing our community along with us."

Iwi and Community School Liaison Officer Wiri Peka says "the relationships are already built and that's why I believe and the school believes Takaanini is on the rise."

Mana whenua provided the history and pepeha and students designed the mural. Peka says recently introduced kapa haka and mau rākau have helped re-engage students with their learning.

"Nobody here knew the history or the whakapapa or Ihaka Takaanini, they didn't even know who Kiwi Tāmaki was."

Jessica says "it would be weird if we came to a school and we didn't know where we're from or where the school belongs to so I think it's really important for every school, not just ours, to know their background."

Peka says students now feel a sense of pride knowing they belong, and they want to leave a positive legacy for others.