New school plans have community excited
Plans are afoot for Foxton's Maori community to open a long-awaited language immersion school - the next step in the town's efforts to foster the survival of New Zealand's native language.
The trust behind Te Pa Harakeke o Te Awahou early childhood centre has announced it aims to expand into a kura kaupapa Maori school, with 5-year-old Terimikaere Burt leading the way.
The hope was to grow the kohanga reo, which celebrated its one-year anniversary last week, until there was enough support for a kura to foster primary and eventually secondary school students. That was now starting to happen.
The Foxton Maori community, led by the Ngati Raukawa iwi, have received the nod from Te Runanga Nui o Nga Kura Kaupapa Maori, the governing body of New Zealand's kura kaupapa, to start work establishing the town's te reo immersion school.
The nearest alternative kura kaupapa option is in Levin or Palmerston North.
The management team were working through the required licensing changes with the Ministry of Education, as well as land and location queries, building designs, and curriculum plans.
Milton Rauhihi, a member of the five-strong management team, said it had been more than a decade since full te reo Maori-led education had been available to Foxton families.
The news of a kura kaupapa had been welcomed, he said.
"It is early days; it will be determined by the enthusiasm of the whanau, but support seems to be picking up pretty rapidly for us in Foxton," he said.
"Parents are determined that [Terimikaere] will be the first child, so we're keen to get it up and running pretty quickly in time for him," he said.
That could be as soon as December if everything goes to plan.
Land has been put aside by one of the families in Foxton, with plans for a purpose-built facility, and a budget likely to hit the $1 million mark, already in the works.
Rauhihi said there was a lot of fundraising to be done yet, but the trust's inaugural Mataraki symposium - which brought hundreds of Maori leaders to Foxton, including Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia - was a good start.
A number of families have already expressed interest in enrolling their children, with the role at the kohanga blossoming from two children when it first opened to 12.
"It's well supported from the marae and the people in the area," Rauhihi said.