Christchurch kura puts case to minister

CHARLEY MANN
Last updated 05:00 09/11/2012
 Education Minister Hekia Parata
DAVID HALLETT

SUBMISSION: Education Minister Hekia Parata visits Spreydon’s Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Whanau Tahi yesterday.

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Education Minister Hekia Parata has been handed the first submission from a Christchurch school earmarked for merger, a month before the consultation deadline.

Spreydon's Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Whanau Tahi yesterday presented Parata with its submission against the proposed merger with Te Kura Whakapumau Te Reo Tuturu Ki Waitaha.

In its submission, Te Whanau Tahi proposes to create a "culturally grounded, 21st-century education - Maori medium style".

To stave off a merger, the kura wants to increase the use of its facilities.

Plans are afoot to establish an early-childhood education centre, an after-school homework centre and evening courses, as well as housing a social services and learning support centre.

The kura is inviting pupils from mainstream schools to "learn with us in a high-level te reo Maori immersion setting".

Melanie Riwai-Couch, a specialist education adviser and mother of five bilingual children, four of whom attend Te Whanau Tahi, said the submission was the first of two that the kura would submit. This first was a "snapshot" of the kura "based on what we consider to be thorough consultation with our whanau to date".

The second could give more in-depth research on possible effects of a merger on the community.

"Going through this process has been assuring as well because it really has affirmed that we are doing so many things well that are groundbreaking and innovative and in line both with Ministry of Education direction and to help achieve Government goals," she said.

Parata welcomed the submission, saying: "The kura has been very clear from the start that they have got compelling arguments and views about the quality of education that they offer, about the quality of te reo Maori they they offer, and they have been really keen to ensure that I fully understand that."

Parata spoke with pupils, staff and parents in Maori during her visit to the kura, part of her offer to visit all schools affected by the education shake-up, which proposes to close 13 schools and put 26 through some form of merger.

The ministry has given schools 10 weeks to consult.

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