City's first school adopts Maori name

IAIN SCOTT
Last updated 12:00 28/03/2014

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Palmerston North's first public school has adopted a Maori name to reflect its 142-year history and cultural identity.

Central Normal School principal Shona Oliver said the existing name would be retained, but the new name, Te Kura Tuatahi o Papaioea, would be used with it.

Board of trustees member Roly Fitzgerald said the name, which meant "the first school of Palmerston North", reflected the history of the school founded in 1872.

The board of trustees approved and dedicated the name yesterday at a hui involving the school, representatives of Rangitaane and the wider community, and agency partners.

Mr Fitzgerald said taking on the new name was significant because the school had had a bilingual unit for 15 years. "The teams within the school, the children's teams, have all got Maori names to them, there's a Maori part of the school emblem. What was missing was a Maori name for the school."

Mrs Oliver added that half of the children at the school were Maori.

Mr Fitzgerald said the board had to consider cultural appropriateness when coming up with the name.

"In researching names for the school, there were a couple of suggestions of names that were associated with the Rangitaane people, some ancestral names," he said.

"We, however, decided that an ancestral name was probably not appropriate given that with an ancestral name for a marae or meeting house, the families from that marae can whakapapa to that ancestor. Not every child in the school is able to do that."

The idea for the name had its beginnings at a retreat where it was mentioned it was the first school in the city.

First called Central School, its original building was on the corner of Princess and Main streets, the site of the present-day Empire Hotel.

In 1890 it moved to Campbell St and then in 1922 it relocated to its existing site on Featherston St.

Mrs Oliver, whose parents went to the school in 1920, said new signage would be placed on the office building "hopefully after the holidays".

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- Manawatu Standard

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