A Far North school has met Kaikohe elders so students can start using a new building which has a rahui - or restricted access - placed on it because of its name.

Kaikohe Intermediate School recently opened and blessed a refurbished classroom block which was named Te Ahi Kaa Roa - which the school said was suggested and favoured by several of the wider school whanau.

However David Rankin, an elder of Kaikohe hapu Te Matarahurahu, said the name was "entirely inappropriate'.

Read more: Far North intermediate school uses 'forbidden' name linked to child tragedy


Mr Rankin said Te Ahi Kaa Roa originally referred to a Te Matarahurahu papakainga which was abandoned following a series of tragedies where a number of children died during the 1940s and 1950s.

Mr Rankin said human remains were found in the 1970s, when the DB Northland Hotel swimming pool was being built on the site of the papakainga.

"If Kaikohe Intermediate School had consulted the leaders of Te Matarahurahu, and those who were born and lived on the land, the school would have been aware of the fact that the name Te Ahi Kaa Roa is one whose use is forbidden," Mr Rankin said.

As a result Mr Rankin put a rahui on the building. which means no one is allowed to enter.

He said it was a "rahui of education" and if the building was being used no negativity would come to those using it.

Freda Mokaraka, Kaikohe Intermediate School principal, said consultation with kaumatua and kuia from Kaikohe took place before naming the building.

"Since the concern was raised about the name, the school has met elders of Kaikohe who have committed to finding the way forward so that our children can begin using the wonderful classrooms.

"At this time we feel it is appropriate to wait until the elders have come back to us before making any further comment," she said.

Mr Rankin said he was not aware the classroom had been named Te Ahi Kaa Roa until after it had been named.

He acknowledged the school followed a process and that there were many hapu in Kaikohe. But he said the land is Te Matarahurahu land, and therefore the hapu should have been consulted in the naming process.

Mr Rankin said he did not contact the school about his concerns and the rahui before sending an email to media and politicians because he wanted to "make a point".

He said a staff member from the school got in touch with him to ask about Maori knowledge but not about the naming.

"You have to make a point. In life you're either the shark or the bait."

Mr Rankin said he wanted the school to do well and prosper.

He said when schools are naming something they should use a "very simple humble name", and that should be Ministry of Education policy.