Kura overcomes struggle to stand strong

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Uri Māui in Gisborne is celebrating a milestone of 25 years, however, it hasn't been without struggle. The families of the school have overcome challenges over the years with a commitment to providing a Māori language emersion environment for their children. 

For these students, their school is more than a place of learning.

Nakoia Forrester started at TKKM o Ngā Uri a Māui when she was 4 years old, she says, “The most significant thing to me is exemplifying the values of Te Aho Matua, learning together as siblings and bonding with those students over on that side.”

Starting out in a shed in 1993, reaching this milestone hasn't been an easy road.

Teacher Rongomai Smith says, “It started in Pāpa Ian's shed, then went to Te Kuri a Tuatai (Marae), from there to the Church on Ormond Road, then to an English school Ilminster, they were the only mainstream school here in Gisborne who supported this Māori initiative.”

The school opened at its current location with modern facilities in 1998. It was the Ringatū Church who gifted the land to the school.

“The school came here to this land to Mangamoteo, however, it wasn't supported by the red necks of this area, for this Māori initiative to stand here on Māori land,” says Smith.

Now, it caters to over 240 students from year 1 to year 13.

One young student says, “I can learn how to do mathematics, to read and write (in Te Reo Māori).”

Another student says, “I get to see my mates and learn Te Reo Māori.”

"Two generations of my family have gone to this school so that aspect is still going within my family," says Nakoia Forrester.

Now in her final year, Forrester intends to gain a teaching degree and return to reinvest in the school to keep the movement alive.

The school now awaits a purpose built gymnasium promised under the previous Government.