A Wairarapa iwi is to launch an almost $800,000 education scheme that aims to lift classroom achievements among their young while also reaching out to students of every culture in the region.
Representatives of Kahungunu ki Wairarapa iwi authority and the Ministry of Education yesterday signed off the $788,000 scheme, which will formally launch within the next two months and run through to early 2017, iwi authority general manager PJ Devonshire said.
The scheme was named He Heke Tuna, He Heke Rangatira, he said, a title which uses the life cycle of the native eel as a metaphor for the pre-school, school, and post-academic stages of "the learner journey of our people from birth to death" .
Clusters of schools within each of the territorial authority districts of Masterton, Carterton and South Wairarapa will take on the scheme, he said, and targets included curriculum development, a professional learning and development program, a Hapu Whanau Wananga (family learning unit), an iwi education website, whanau advisory groups, and the Reading Together programme tailored for families at home.
"Most important is the development of a curriculum based on Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa - our korero, our stories, our songs, our histories, our whakapapa."
Mr Devonshire said the 2010 Census showed there was a higher percentage of Maori students enrolled in the region than the national average, and the scheme also aimed at the retention and higher education of Maori students.
Mr Devonshire said culture, language and identity were keys for the success of Kahungunu students and the concept of Wairarapatanga, which embraces "all of us" who call the region home.
"Wairarapa was known as a place of education and a place of wananga and this is an opportunity to continue the legacy of our old people - the likes of Te Whatahoro, Te Matorohanga and Paora Potangaroa."
The scheme is the first of its kind in New Zealand to win bulk funding from the ministry, Mr Devonshire said, and had been developed over the past three years in consultation with schools, educationalists, kohanga and wananga groups.
Nelson Rangi, Kahungunu ki Wairarapa governance board chairman, said family and parents were vital to the success of the scheme and the lifting of academic standards among Kahunguni ki Wairarapa students.
"If we want to raise the standards of education for the children then we have to involve the parents, we have to involve the families. Without their co-operation and involvement, we will get nowhere," he said.
"When we developed our strategic plan in 2008, one of our aims was that the education level of our children would be in the top 10 per cent.
"We aimed high and felt that level was admirable. When you reach for the sun, you're not going to end with your face in the mud."