Owhata Primary School have signed a memorandum of understanding with Ngati Te Roro o te Rangi, which will see a permanent hapu representative on the school's board.

This morning the school held a pohiri for key stakeholders and community groups that work with the school to witness the signing.

The agreement means the representative will be appointed by iwi rather than going through the same election process as other board members.

Representatives from Nga Pumanawa e Waru, Rotorua Lakes Council, Toi Ohomai, the Mokoia Community Association, Swim Rotorua and Rotovegas Boxing were among the guests.


Assistant principal Shaun Douglas said the signing was a way of saying thank you and acknowledging the work Ngati Te Roro o te Rangi had done for the school.

"We have asked one of our huge partners to join us today, to make a special bond and agreement," he said.

"We work with them often and we wanted to make that connection official and make it more defined.

"We're all joined as one."

The Owhata pupils performed a haka and sang waiata for the guests.

Owhata Primary School pupils perform a haka at the signing of the Ngati Te Roro O Te Rangi memorandum of understanding. Photo/Stephen Parker
Owhata Primary School pupils perform a haka at the signing of the Ngati Te Roro O Te Rangi memorandum of understanding. Photo/Stephen Parker

Principal Bob Stiles said the relationship between the hapu and the kura had always been fantastic.

"This is to ensure even when we're retired and gone there will always be a hapu member governing the school for as long as it is still standing," he said.

"The whenua our school stands upon was gifted by the hapu for the purpose of the school.


"We thought it'd be so good for the kura to have a hapu member on our board."

Designated student hosts collected each of the visitors after a break for morning tea to take them on a tour of the school.

Each classroom had created a display to show off the hard work of the different community groups that work with the school.

New hapu representative on the board Ralph Mosen said Ngati Te Roro o te Rangi already had a lot of influence in the school.

"Most of our children attend here, we have a strong interest in this school," he said.

"It just cements the relationship between the tangata whenua and the rohe the school sits upon.

"That's what it's really all about."

Leigh Richards-Ward, community-led manager of Mokoia Community Association, said it was exciting to see all the work that had been done with different stakeholders and community groups coming together.

"Now it allows us to continue that into future work.

"For me, and for the Mokoia Community Association it's great the see the collaboration and it's all about what we can do for the tamariki and the whanau at the school."

According to the Ministry of Education website, most trustees are elected, but boards are also allowed to have additional trustees for a particular purpose, or to appoint additional trustees, "for example if they have some particular skills that the board does not have otherwise".

New Zealand School Trustees Association president Lorraine Kerr said while it wasn't regular there were some schools who wanted iwi representation.

"Kura kaupapa schools often have these iwi or hapu members on their boards," she said.

"I know of some boards that have more than 16 non-elected members."