School takes on new name
Reinvention is the name of the game at Papakura South School.
The school is changing its name to Kereru Park Campus in reference to the native wood pigeons that grace the stand of totara trees outside its classrooms.
The school is across a field from Kirks Bush where kereru feed on puriri berries before flying across to roost at the school.
Principal George Ihimaera says the name Kirks Bush Campus was also considered but with around 90 per cent Maori students on the roll Kereru Park seemed more appropriate.
Mr Ihimaera has been working with the board since last year to define the school's new path.
"We're looking at redeveloping the whole culture within the school," he says.
That includes new traditions with a new house system based on the school's values of excellence, confidence and integrity.
Students and their families will kick off each year with a stay on a marae and a haka and waiata competition between the houses.
Adult education classes starting this term are also set to give parents tools to help their kids through school in specific topics like maths and reading.
Kereru Park Campus is undergoing a major rebuild, with new administration and classrooms and the new dental clinic out front.
The board has an even bigger vision for the next decade, Mr Ihimaera says.
Its Maori total immersion unit is having such good results that the school wants to start a kura kaupapa that will run from kohanga reo through to tertiary level.
The principal says the community has driven many of the changes and this one is no different - he has been approached by a group that wants a local kura kaupapa. By his estimate between 50 and 60 children are being sent to kura kaupapa outside Papakura each year.
"There's just nothing available locally."
The idea has yet to receive backing from the Ministry of Education but it is in the long-term plan.
Calling the school a campus will help future-proof the concept, he says.