In line with the Muaūpoko iwi vision – a group of passionate whānau have been working over the past two years toward establishing a Kohanga and Kura Ā Iwi for Taitoko, Levin.

The whānau team includes teachers from mainstream schools, early childhood centres and Kura Māori as well as whānau with a wide range of business and policy experience. They have been building on previous work done by other Muaūpoko leaders toward this long-held dream.

The team has held a number of hui with whānau to build a base for their work, had hui and visits from the Ministry of Education, completed surveys and interviews.

"Our local schools and early childhood centres have also been informed that we plan to start a Kura Māori next year and have taken up the invitation to support us," said spokesperson Regina Hepi. "We are currently working on our business case as well as a charter. These are progressing well."

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A hui was held at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō on recently to further inform whānau of the plans.

"We have an agreement kaumātua and whānau across our iwi and we working in partnership with MTA (Muaūpoko Tribal Authority).

The kura will cater for Years 1 – 13 students. It will be a composite school and include a Kohanga Reo. Plan is to have our first class open in 2020."

"We see this kura as a chance for tamariki to access learning in ways that they can relate to, where they can be themselves and express themselves. Be proud of as well as celebrate our reo, our legends, history, waiata, karakia, haka...our culture and identity."

Statistics show many Māori are not where they want to be and research shows kohanga and kura can increase those opportunities.

The team is taking enquiries of interest and enrolments now and already has many registered. They are using their national, local and iwi networks to build a broad base for the kura.

They have visited existing Kura Māori, including one in Christchurch to see different education models and environments in action.

"So we can look at what might best support our tamariki, rangatahi and whānau dreams and aspirations.

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"Our Kura Māori needs to offer something different for our tamariki and rangatahi, to truly help them reach their full potential. Muaūpokotanga will be at the heart of our curriculum."

"We have been inspired to do this for a few years and have received positive feedback and a lot of guidance from the Ministry of Education as well as our own Muaūpoko whānau and Kaumātua," said Regina.

"A lot of our kids go out of town for school and many kohanga reo [there is only one in Levin] and kura in the region are overbooked. Some even have waiting lists."

"Consultation with whānau is ongoing and the Sunday before last was an opportunity to share with them where we are at. It won't be long now."

"It is hugely inspiring to partner with and support such passionate whānau on this important and worthwhile kaupapa," Di Rump, CEO Muaūpoko Tribal Authority said. "It has also been wonderful to have the unreserved support of our education partners and schools. Everyone is so positive."

Muaūpoko leaders across the region and wider are connecting to this project, bringing their skills and experience to help deliver the vision, she said.

The kohanga and kura vision has been linked to applied research projects for a Masters in Māori and Indigenous Leadership Programme that a number of Muaūpoko leaders are undertaking together through the University of Canterbury.

"This will help ensure our plans and our thinking have good rigour and are future proofed".

"The education sector is in complete transformation. Places and spaces for learning are being fundamentally redefined by technology.

"We can take Muaūpokotanga to the globe – so having a learning environment in our rohe where Muaūpokotanga is preserved and celebrated and where our kids can be deeply connected to their culture and identity is a great start and key part of that longer term strategy," said Di.