A trio of senior Labour Party MPs paid a flying visit to Lakeview School yesterday to tour the unique Ka Rewa Centre which was expected to roll out to at least one other school in the region.
The school and Maori health group Te Hauora Runanga Wairarapa were lead partners in the Ka Rewa Centre, which was unique in New Zealand. Other partner agencies include Rangitane o Wairarapa and Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa iwi authorities, Whaiora Maori health service, the Supporting Families organisation and Regional Public Health.
Lakeview School principal Ed Hodgkinson said the group of visitors to the school included Labour Party deputy leader Annette King, MP for Rongotai, Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard, who is also the Labour Party spokesman for internal affairs and sport and recreation, and Ruth Dyson, Port Hills MP and Labour Party spokeswoman for senior citizens, women's affairs, statistics and associate ethnic communities (South Island) spokeswoman.
Mr Hodgkinson had earlier said he knew of only one other similar programme in New Zealand at Victory School in Nelson, although the Ka Rewa Centre was uniquely "rooted in kaupapa Maori".
"We, along with the different partner organisations, are working together in innovative ways, and our visitors today wanted to see that because it might be something they will wish to support across New Zealand.
"That's why they were here. To look for innovative ways of working with communities and that's what we're trying to develop, to find a new way of doing things to help our students do well, both academically and w holistically and in every way."
Deputy principal Gene Bartlett said students had helped stage a powhiri, or welcome, for the politicians before the collaborative approach that underpins the centre was outlined during their tour.
"They really appreciated the visit and acknowledged our students right from the minute they got out of their cars to when they had a korero (conversation) with students to see what they were getting out of the programme. They seemed very impressed, which is great."
Mr Bartlett said the scheme, which aims to build confident leadership in students through a range of elements from family health and coping with loss and grief, siblings, and bullying to water safety, traditional Maori arts, and marae stays.
Students and their whanau, or family, can be school or self-referred and the philosophy and aims of the scheme, open to Maori and non-Maori, were outlined to the visiting MPs.
"We talked about the next stage of Ka Rewa hopefully going down to Featherston and a similar initiative down there including the in-class aspects and the clinic, or hub side, where the services come to the centre.
He said there were also plans to run a weekly counselling session at Ka Rewa and a clinical psychologist had also pinpointed the needs and preferences of students after interviewing a representative group of children.
"The creation of Ka Rewa may have come from a Maori kaupapa, and the framework, but it's here for all kids and they themselves are helping to refine and decide what happens there."