Kura commissioner will focus on te reo

LAIRD HARPER
Last updated 05:00 13/09/2012
renee stand
LAIRD HARPER
Newly appointed commissioner Renee Wright is led on to Aotearoa Marae during a powhiri to welcome her to Te Kura O Nga Ruahine Rangi yesterday.

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A te reo-focused replacement commissioner has been appointed at a South Taranaki Maori immersion school battling to enlist teachers fluent in the language.

In June, a group of Nga Ruahine iwi members led by authority chairman and former kura principal John Hooker protested at the gates of the kura about its teachers not being fluent in te reo.

Mr Hooker criticised the then commissioner, Dallas Murdoch, as being "right-wing, eurocentric and monolingual", and said he was hiring the wrong teachers.

Yesterday, he said the Ministry of Education had finally got it right in appointing the new commissioner, Renee Wright.

"I'm rapt," he said.

"She is a very fluent speaker of te reo, with strong teaching qualifications and a strong kaupapa Maori background."

Mr Hooker said under her watch they believed the immersion school would again fully embrace te reo by the beginning of next year.

Ms Wright, of Nga Ruahine, Umutahi, Okahu and Ngai Haua descent, said her goal was to "help the iwi realise their aspirations".

She said everyone was now on the same page and ready to move forward.

The first commissioner took over in late 2009 after concerns about financial and educational targets were raised, but since the appointment, the school roll had dropped significantly.

The school's latest Education Review Office report, issued in October last year, raised a number of concerns and even questioned its future viability.

Issues highlighted in the report include poor whanau and community engagement, a lack of professional development among staff, and poor student progress in literacy, numeracy and te reo Maori with students at risk of not attaining appropriate levels of achievement.

The kura services Stratford, Eltham, Kaponga and the surrounding district.

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