Historic Māori boys' boarding school St Stephens (Tipene) is closer to reopening at Bombay.
Twenty years after the school closed, its board has submitted a draft application to the Ministry of Education to become a special character school and will now put in a formal application to reopen in 2022 with 50 students. it already has a waiting list of 150 so plans to expand rapidly.
Former student and St Stephens School spokesperson Nathan Durie reunited with other former students both from the boys' boarding school and girls' school Queen Victoria School (Te Kura o Kuini Wikitoria) at Tatai Hono Marae in Auckland, to hear what agreement has been reached by trustee members of the school board.
"We're so thrilled that we've laid down our vision and they've supported our submission," Durie says.
The ministry says it has the draft application and has been working with the board to help strengthen its formal application to become a designated character school. Ministry of Education sector enablement and support deputy secretary Katrina Casey says while the board is finalising its formal application, ministry officials are available to meet with them as needed.
Regime to succeed
Once the formal application is in, the ministry has to make sure it meets the requirements for a designated character school before developing a report for the minister and asking his agreement to carry out consultation with the schools whose rolls may be affected.
"Consultation with the school boards of trustees is a valuable part of the decision-making process and, once completed, informs the second report, which will seek a final decision on the proposed new school."
A trust board member explained to Te Ao Marama there had been changes to ministry personnel through Covid-19, which is probably why it's taken so long for the plan to reopen to be considered.
Durie, who is the principal for another special character school in Manawatū, and Yvette McClauseland Durie are leading the proposal while Adam Martin became general manager of the school in September.
"Too many of our Māori boys are dropping out of mainstream schools, so we need to sort out a regime for them to succeed," Durie said.
The school, which is on 155 hectares in Bombay, will also be assessed to see if other activities can support the kaupapa of the kura and long-term viability.