A Northland principal will seek advice from the Education Ministry if a Kaikohe hapu member places a rahui on the entire school.

David Rankin, of hapu Te Matarahurahu, placed a rahui on a newly opened classroom block named Te Ahi Kaa Roa at Kaikohe Intermediate School and said if the name did not change by the end of the week he would extend the rahui to the entire school.

He said Te Ahi Kaa Roa was inappropriate as it was the name of a papakainga which was abandoned following a series of tragedies involving children in the 1940s and 1950s.

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


A rahui is a ritual restriction on access to, or use of, an area or resource.

The Ministry of Education was not aware of rahui being placed on buildings in Te Tai Tokerau before and said it would become involved if a rahui was placed on the entire school.

Kaikohe Intermediate School principal Freda Mokaraka said she would have to consult the Ministry of Education on what to do. "I've never had this happen to me before.

"Education is absolutely paramount, and that's our position to make sure every day is an excellent day for our kids in Kaikohe," she said.

Mr Rankin said the way to resolve the problem was to change the name. However Te Ahi Kaa Roa was favoured by several of the wider school whanau.

Ms Mokaraka said consultation with kaumatua and kuia from Kaikohe took place before naming the building and since the rahui had been put in place community elders had been committed to finding a way forward.

The building was not being used.

"It's for kaumatua to work it out at a hapu level. My position on it is the kids and continuing to ensure we run our school effectively in a manner that's both respectful to Matarahurahu as well."


Ms Mokaraka said she had been in contact with Colin Rameka, who is from the Te Matarahurahu hapu, but Mr Rankin said hapu had not yet been consulted.

Katrina Casey, Ministry of Education deputy secretary of sector enablement and support, said when a rahui is placed on a building, such was the case at Kaikohe Intermediate, the ministry's view was that iwi and hapu were best placed to address the issues.

She said the ministry were made aware of the rahui on the building when Mr Rankin sent a wide ranging email to "a number of people", including its national office.

"We have tried to contact Mr Rankin since but he has not responded."