Turakina Maori Girls College is looking to attract more pakeha students and may take the name "Maori" out of its title to increase enrolments.

The 110-year-old Marton school is in danger of closing after Education Minister Hekia Parata announced a consultation process last month.

Iwi and Maori trust sponsorship, more day pupils, whanau living in Australia, students under CYF care, marketing to other ethnic groups and appealing to pakeha families who want their girls to have knowledge of Te Ao Maori are listed as strategies in a report prepared by the school's board of trustees in response to the closure threat.

The report says if the college is to appeal to a broader group, it may need to promote Turakina as "Turakina Girls College."


Nga Wahine Tawhito o Turakina Nga Hara Inc (the school's old girl association) is leading the campaign to recruit students. President Hemaima Eichsteadt said the college had never excluded non-Maori students, but it had not actively marketed to other ethnic groups.

The school aims to increase its role from 54 to 80 students by 2016 and Nga Wahine Tawhito o Turakina Nga Hara says it is confident it can find 40 new enrolments by Labour weekend.

The board of trustees has identified three urgent actions in its report to the minister - providing a safe environment by repairing buildings and eliminating bullying at the hostel, improving financial viability by paying off debts and increasing income and enrolments.

The school has two governing bodies - the trustees oversee educational management and a board of proprietors is responsible for the running and maintenance of the hostel.

Trustees chairwoman Trish Biddle-Amoroa said a division between the hostel and the school had been the cause of some of Turakina's problems.

"The board of proprietors has not been functional for the past three years while the school has been under statutory management and a commissioner has taken over responsibility," she said.

The school is proposing a new structure that would see one board with two parts meeting together and the appointment of a director of living responsible for the hostel in the same way the principal is responsible as director of learning.

The new structure would include community representation and Rangitikei mayor Andy Watson indicated his willingness to assist the college.


Mrs Eichsteadt was a member of a delegation that travelled to Wellington last week and said it was gratifying to see supporters outside Parliament.

"There were so many former students of Turakina, one is in her 90s, and we had a number of primary-aged children whose whanau want them to attend Turakina in the future. They joined us for the haka outside parliament - it was very moving and made the visit worthwhile."

Mrs Eichsteadt said representatives the Green Party, New Zealand First and the Maori Party had offered to finance a future visit by a Turakina group.

The college is holding an open day on Tuesday, September 22, with a session at 10am and another at 1pm when families can meet staff and tour the facilities.