Te Pā o Rakaihautu started out nearly 20-years ago with a big vision for a holistic kaupapa Maori educational facility.
Coming together naturally from their love for kapa haka, a group of young parents established a dual language early learning centre ‘Noku Te Ao’. It wasn’t long before they opened another. As their tamariki grew, so too did the hunger of the roopu to develop an innovative 21st century pā wānanga to embrace the learning needs of all of the whānau.
The chair of the board, Rangimarie Parata Takurua, says Te Pā Wānanga is about a Māori based learning village.
“We named the concept ‘It Takes a Village’ because it’s about moving past thinking of our education coming purely from a traditional school approach,” she says.
“A traditional approach doesn’t always meet our needs as Māori. Te Pā o Rākaihautū allows us to reconnect to whenua and significant places within the takiwā that support learning in all aspects of Māori success”.
Te Pā Wānanga incorporates concepts of mahinga kai, maara kai, mirimiri, sustainable recycling, reducing and reusing of all that come from Papatūānuku. It has required a number of collaborative partnerships to help make the vision a reality.
Matua Komene Kururangi says Te Pā o Rākaihautū is not a school, but a home.
“It’s a place where our tamariki want to turn up early and don't want to leave when it's time to go,” he says.
“It is a place where you can be yourself and big ups to our kids. I’m definitely proud to be a part of the Pā.”
Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu Pouārahi, Helen Leahy, says the concept is about doing what it takes to help whānau succeed, not only in education but in life.
“They are making such an impact that their roll continues to grow way beyond current projections,” she says.
Rangimarie says a child educated to be strong in its own identity stands confidently in the world.
“Tamaiti akona i te pā, tū ana ki te ao, tau ana,” she says.
“The vision for Te Pā Wānanga is to empower whānau to confidently participate in Te Ao Māori, creating a space where they can learn their history. In Te Pā, the aim is to nurture the whole person; a-tīnana, a-hinengaro, a-wairua, a-whānau so that they stand with strength, pride, passion and purpose.”