While other students return to their schools for another year of learning, 50 students will be starting with brand new facilities and a new style of education at one of the two charter schools in Northland.

Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa will be welcoming students through their doors on Lower Dent St for the first time on February 23.

While other students will be entering classrooms with four walls and one teacher, these boys will be learning in a large open space, with more than one lesson happening at once.

Dr Nathan Matthews is the executive director of learning for the school - he won't be called principal - and will be known as pouwhakahaere by the students.


The roll is expected to be half boys who were with the school as it was formerly known as the A Company Leadership Academy and half new students, he said.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge and working in the field of Maori education, I'm looking forward to dedicating my efforts to a new model like this and building on the success of the academy," Mr Matthews said.

The parents of students at the kura hourua won't need to be buying new uniforms, mufti clothing is allowed.

School for the students begins at 8:30am and junior students will finish at 3pm while seniors will carry on with extra classes until 5pm.

The school day will be broken up into three learning periods with a morning and lunchtime break between, whereas most high schools have learning periods of 45 or 50 minutes.

Mr Matthews said teachers at the school will be multi-disciplinary focused.

There will be one teacher for science and maths, one for English and Te Reo, one to cover the social sciences and one for Maori performing arts. "Maori identity is so important we are going to build up their confidence and make it normal to come and do [Maori performing arts]."

Senior students will be encouraged to work without teachers pushing them along.

The learning space will feature two break-out rooms where teachers can take groups of students who want further explanation on a topic.

A controversial Memorandum of Understanding is being tabled currently at secondary school Boards of Trustees in Whangarei on behalf of the Ministry of Education to establish a formal working relationship between the kura hourua and mainstream high schools.

The Post-Primary Teachers' Association is against the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding that would see charter school students being taught at mainstream schools against the union's wishes.

Students from the kura hourua will possibly be attending mainstream schools in the area for special interest subjects such as visual arts and music.

Mr Matthews said Te Wananga o Aotearoa and The Correspondence School will be utilised for other subjects like carpentry.