The three Maori boarding schools in Hawke's Bay will get the lion's share of a $20 million government investment, to enable them to address significant declining property issues and maintain their operations.
Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri said the investment, announced on Friday, would help grow New Zealand's future leaders.
"This government believes in the unique role Māori boarding schools play in helping to shape and develop rangatahi," the Labour Party MP said.
"The rangatahi who attend these schools live and breathe tikanga, reo and develop a sense of whanaungatanga that can only be achieved inside these institutions."
Whaitiri was joined by fellow Māori minister, Associate Minister of Education Kelvin Davis at the announcement made at Hukarere College.
"The government made the commitment in 2020. This is an investment by the government in special character boarding schools- the special character being Maoridom," Whaitiri told Hawke's Bay Today.
"This funding for Hukarere will go towards the hostel so it can have fit-for-purpose facilities, and be a modern learning environment for the students.
"The students here have an absolute love for the college and we want their experience to be an attracting mechanism for future students."
Davis said the hostel, having been inside it, was "pretty cold, very old and has no insulation".
"This money comes from the ministry of Maori development, and will address the living-side of things," he said.
"So far there have been patchwork improvements made, so this funding should help them make improvement to the facilities which should last them beyond their 150 year anniversary in 2025."
He said the amount that each school was getting was dependent on the needs of each one.
"The government is committed to supporting Māori boarding schools where we can, they play a huge role in growing Māori leaders," Davis said.
"They [the boarding schools] can begin talking to officials immediately."
Hukarere College principal Shone West said she was celebrating the recognition of Māori boarding schools, and hoped the announcement was just the beginning of good things to come.
The funds, needed "yesterday", were going to help make big changes to the hostel.
"The proprietors have had discussions with TPK and have worked hard to make some changes to the hostel, but we welcome the funds," West said.
She said the rooms and kitchen all desperately needed improvement.
"We have 52 girls staying at the hostel, it can fit 75.
"We have a 20-year-old oven that is still used to cook three meals, three times a day for the girls.
"The door is falling off, it's rusting."
She said the college had been shut three times, and hoped the improvements would go a long way to ensuring it doesn't happen again.
"It's missed out on so much. I am adamant the hostel is fully resourced," West said.
"It's not going to miss out again on my watch."
She said in an ideal world the college would get the $20m in its entirety, but she said the number being floated around was just above the $5m mark.
"I am grateful for the funds we are receiving."
The two other Māori boarding schools in Hawke's Bay to receive funds will be St Joseph's Māori Girls' College, and Te Aute College.
Whaitiri said the announcement was one part of over a $1 billion Budget package for Māori and she was proud of the work the Government was doing to elevate Māori aspirations in housing, health, employment and education.
"Successive governments have given up on Māori boarding schools, but this Government believes in the unique role they play, not just in educating rangatahi, but instilling Māori values in the next generation of leaders," Whaitiri said.
Davis said there was an "overdue need to increase public recognition and acknowledgement of the contribution Māori leadership has made to advancing Māoridom, Aotearoa and broader nationhood building."