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Watch NZH Local Focus: Meet the Maori teenagers getting degrees in high school

By Sieska Verdonk

Meet the students fast-tracking their education.

Senior students at Te Kura-ā-Iwi o Whakatupuranga Rua Mano, take secondary and tertiary programmes at the same time.

"Instead of our kids going to school and learning things they're not passionate about, it's more our kids going to school and learning things they love to do because, from a vocational pathway perspective, that's what they have created," says Tanira Manaia Cooper, Head of Senior school.

As well as studying for NCEA qualifications, they also take degree papers at Te Wananga O Raukawa, the Maori University across the road.

"They'll complete their year 11 with a diploma, year 12 they will be in their second year, and by year 13 they should have completed their degree everything going right."

Everybody in the senior class is full or part Maori, however, the school says the door is open to everyone.

Lisiane Ropata-Box is studying towards a degree in performing arts.

She's a dancer, with hopes of making it into the New Zealand Royal Ballet. She says she gets her passion for it from someone special.

"I chose performing arts because it's something my nana used to do. And yeah, it's just for her," says Miss Ropata-Box.

Night and morning classes outside school hours are tailor-made for the students if they feel they need them.

"We learn the origins and background of kapa haka, we learn history, how to compose songs, last year in year one, we had to do a powhiri arrangement. The boys learned how to do whaikorero, and the girls learned how to do Karanga," says Miss Ropata-Box.

Nathan Kale-Picchi is studying Maori health and well-being, and has big dreams.

"I want to take it and be a personal trainer because I love the gym, I love working out, love learning about muscles and food. And if that becomes a success, I'll try to be a sports doctor," says Mr Kale-Picchi

Te Kura-ā-Iwi o Whakatupuranga Rua Mano, or Generation 2000, was set up by three separate Iwi in 1999.

Its mission? To achieve more for the next generation, a mission its students say it fulfils.

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- NZ Herald

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