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Whanau support was critical to getting New Plymouth's Maori immersion school off the ground and as it celebrated its 20th birthday over the weekend, that dedication was remembered.
Te Pi'ipi'inga Kakano Mai I Rangiatea Kura Kaupapa Maori hosted about 150 current and former students, teachers, principals and whanau where they took part in several celebrations over three days.
The school's board chairman Wharehoka Wano is thrilled it has reached the 20-year milestone.
"For the first two years we didn't have government funding and the whanau fundraised to keep the school going," he said.
"That was a tough period and it shows how dedicated the whanau was to provide Maori immersion education for our kids."
Mr Wano said former students who attended spoke positively of the influence the kura has had on their lives.
"The kura is very well established now and there is certainly a need for it.
"When we finished up at the weekend students talked about how they can contribute back to the kura in future years to ensure it continues," he said.
Principal Min O'Carroll said Taranaki reo is in a precarious state but having hundreds of students attend the school kept the language alive.
Through changing times Mr Wano said it's been a struggle to keep kids speaking only Maori, especially when they are surrounded by English outside school.
He said the school has worked through disagreements about how the kura should run and things are looking bright for the future.
"We ran a wharekura [secondary classes] for eight years but couldn't sustain it.
"Now we're planning to re-establish the wharekura."
A school ball, sports contests, workshops and exhibitions were some of the many activities held during the weekend celebrations.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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