Regional | Hato Pāora College

Māori boarding schools "still relevant" - Hato Paora principal

It’s been almost six months into Nathan Matthews' new role as principal at Hato Paora College and he says he is pleased with the progress the school is making since taking on the role last September.

“We’ve made good progress with re-asserting the identity of Hato Paora and what that means to be a student at Hato Paora,” he says.

The former student of the school says he wanted to build on the Hato Paora legacy while supporting the aspirations of students and their families.

"My main goal was to ensure the school maintained its identity which is linked to the legacy of the school since 1947, at the same time beginning to ensure that its fit for purpose for the 21st century."

Matthews says it's about being consistent and clear about what the goals are for the school.

“it’s been more or less what I expected but in a good way.  I enjoy coming to work and despite the multitude of challenges you might face in a day it feels worthwhile when you see the boys enjoying being here and engaging with their learning.”

Māori boarding schools, now designated as special character schools, have been a part of New Zealand history for decades.  However, over the past few years these schools have slowly been closed down, with four of the nine still open.

“I still think there's a need for these types of schools for those whānau that choose to take this option.

“The schools are still relevant.  We still have a multitude of Māori catholic whānau and communities that see this as the good option for their sons.  Not all regions have wharekura or kura kaupapa so for a kaupapa Māori type of education we’re still a viable option.”

Matthews plans to provide a high standard of education for his students to prepare them for life after Hato Paora College,

“We continue to deliver culturally, academically and then give our boys a holistic education which allows them to really take the next step beyond school, whatever that may be, into work in to trade training, to university and you don’t have to be a leader but you can provide leadership back to your whanau, back to your communities whatever those may be.”