Te Aka Puaho has called on Māori politicians, Iwi leaders, the New Zealand Māori Council, the Māori Womens Welfare League, Māori organisations, Māori Boarding Schools, School Boards and whanau to advocate for the protection of Māori Boarding Schools as Taonga.
This follows the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata announcing a consultation process last week regarding Turakina Māori Girls College and submissions would be heard over the next four weeks before a decision was made on the future of the College.
Parata outlined that ongoing financial and governance issues, as well as a declining roll, had created a situation potentially detrimental to the education of Turakina's current students.
However, according to a statement issued by Te Aka Puaho, the Māori Synod of the Presbyterian Church, Turakina Māori Girls College has a 110 year history and the school is considered a Taonga of the Presbyterian Church and is referred to as ‘that gem, the jewel in the Presbyterian crown’.
Reverend Wayne Te Kaawa says, “The Māori Synod stands by Turakina Māori Girls College and will do everything possible to keep the school open and sees this as a wider issue of the role that Māori Boarding schools play in the life of the Nation and should be classified and protected by Legislation as Taonga of the Nation supported by Church, Government and Iwi.”
Te Aka Puaho says it would like to see legislation implemented that would protect current Māori Boarding Schools as Taonga (Heritage Schools). It also asked that Government, Church and Iwi to contribute to a Taonga endowment fund to help maintain school facilities.
It also proposed that churches revisit ownership issues of the schools, that iwi be included in the ownership, governance and management of the schools and that the Māori Womens Welfare League be included in the ownership, governance and management of the Māori Girls Boarding Schools (Turakina, Hukarere, Hato Hohepa).
Te Kaawa says, “Mighty leaders have arisen from these schools like Sir Apirana Ngata, Sir Maui Pomare and Sir Peter Buck who charted the educational pathway of Māori with the proverb E Tipu e Rea. Since then these schools have produced thousands of leaders who have contributed positively to this country at all levels of Society, Iwi and Government."
Te Kāea reporter Heta Gardiner will have reaction to the call from Te Aka Puaho tonight on Te Kāea at 5:30pm.