Kura marks five years in Bethlehem

Te Wharekura o Mauao principal Koa Douglas. Photo: Nikki South.

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Te Wharekura o Mauao is marking five years at its Bethlehem campus, in which time the school has gone from strength to strength.

Prior to 2012, the Maori medium school was run from a temporary facility provided by what was then known as the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic (now Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology).

Initially the school began with 30 Year 7-9 students, but now has a roll of 220.

It’s classed as a ‘special character’ school which any student of any ethnicity may attend, so long as they embrace an immersive curriculum of te reo and tikanga Maori.

Principal Koa Douglas says kura such as theirs are increasingly becoming the springboard for the revitalisation of te reo Maori.

“It connects students with their heritage, too. We see many parents sending their kids here because they want their children to be connected with the Maori world.”

Assistant principal Heywood Kuka says the school’s students are achieving above the national average.

“We’re disappointed if we don’t reach close to a 100 per cent pass rate,” he says. “Our NCEA statistics show students in Maori medium schools are high achievers.”

Last year all Year 13 students left school with NCEA Level 3. The school roll continues to grow, with more than 60 new enrolments this year – a 30 per cent increase on 2016.

The choice of site on the corner of Bethlehem Rd and Westmorland Rise initially faced resistance from locals, principally those in the Mayfield subdivision. Some residents were concerned traffic in the area would increase, while others worried their house prices would fall.

“That still reverberates in our school community,” says Koa. “But this is us standing up to the naysayers and showing how well we’re doing. Having said that, our relationship with our neighbours is one of positivity and collaboration.”

Today, the median house price in Bethlehem is $744,750.

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Posted on 31-07-2017 13:05 | By cherylhayes

I remember with disgust how we faced the resistance from locals especially from Mayfield residencethat their house valuations would drop, the increase in traffic also that Rotorua were sending their riff raff trouble making and low achievers to this kura. I also was shown a mailout to these residents pointing out the above. Yes Mayfield residents - shame on you just remember that this was our whenua and you walked into it when you had the choice of going to Matua Omokoroa Mount Maunganui etc! Our kura is beautiful our students hold there heads high as they rightly should - this truely is their whenua.

An absolutely STUNNING success. I eat humble pie!

Posted on 30-07-2017 16:06 | By Murray.Guy

I was one with a few reservations on behalf of the local residential community, BUT there can be NO doubt, it didn’t take long for any reservation to become ’admiration’. An absolutely stunning outcome that continues to evolve adding value to all sections and ages of our community!