St Josephs Māori Girls College celebrate 150 years

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

St Josephs Māori Girls College in Taradale Hawke's Bay celebrates 150 years this weekend, a school that has nurtured 8000 girls throughout that time.

A pohiri was held to welcome the old girls back as they look forward to a weekend of celebrations and nostalgia.

"For me it's deep it's a real deep sense of homecoming of belonging it's a sensation of sisterhood that doesn't matter where you are in the world," says Olive Jonas, who was the head girl when she was a student.

Dame Georgina Kingi a former student herself and the current principal has dedicated more than 50 years of her life to the school.

"I suppose it's overwhelming to know that you've been here for that long but it doesn't really strike you until someone sort of mentions to you that you've been here this long."

"It's the support one has and that starts with your boards, your boards of trustees, the trust board the hostel management board."

She also mentions the ongoing support of the parents and wider family that have made getting to 150 years possible.

Ms Kingi was a student here at school in 1968 before becoming the principal in 1987 where her influence has had a lasting affect on her past students.

"You hear out of my mouth a lot of what she used to say to us - telling us not to bring our hakurara ways into her kura," says Stephani Preston with a laugh.

A former head girl herself and now a teacher she says "I find myself mimicking a lot of her ways."

Strong Māori leaders like Dame Whina Cooper and Dame Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira are past students, their leadership paving the way for the next generation of students.

"You really have to grow up here be mature and independent but it's all preparing us for life at Uni and life after and life with kids of our own," says current head girl Paretao Tipoki-Hansen.

From here the school now look forward to reaching another 150 years.