Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Principal drives kids to achieve

Nicola Ngarewa.
Nicola Ngarewa.

Nicola Ngarewa is all about the solution rather than the problem.

The 39-year-old is the principal at Tamatea College, Hawkes Bay, where she has been for a little more than two years.

She is among six New Zealanders named as Blake Leaders in this year's Sir Peter Blake Leadership Awards.

Ms Ngarewa does not like labels and is passionate about pushing children to achieve - no matter where they come from.

"I don't like deciles, at all. It labels kids and it's not fair on them.

"For me, there are no excuses. No matter where you come from, what language you speak or what your socio-economic status is, achieving is within your reach."

It is this philosophy and strong mindset that has seen Ms Ngarewa's popularity soar within the school community. The school's academic results have also improved.

Participation in sports has sky-rocketed at the school, where there are about 300 students - 45 per cent Maori and the rest a mix of Asian, Iraqi, European and Pacific Island.

NCEA achievement rates have doubled in the past two years; with 91 per cent of achievement at Level 1, 94 per cent in Level 2 and 95 per cent at Level 3.

"Now the kids are saying: 'Oh, we've got to make 100 per cent this year'. That's exactly the kind of attitude you want to see and hear in the playground."

- NZ Herald

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