National | Māori

The South Auckland kura ā-iwi bucking the trend: What’s its secret?

Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae score a perfect 10 in NCEA

At a time of falling NCEA achievement rates, Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae from South Auckland continues to exceed expectations and change perceptions of Māori students.

Last year the school’s seniors, close to 150 of them, from years 11–13 passed NCEA levels 1, 2, and 3.

To put that into perspective, only 60% of year 11 students in New Zealand passed Level 1. It’s worse in Auckland, with only 54% of year 11s passing Level 1.

Ahurea Māori at forefront of student achievement

So, what’s in the water at Ngā Tapuwae? Deputy principal Harley Mariu says it’s a mixture of community spirit, a belief in the founding principles of the school and an unwavering belief in the idea that a child who is proud to be Māori can succeed anywhere.

“The fight is for our students to stand tall in their identity as Māori, no matter who, - but Māori students get a bad rep.”

Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae started in 1975 as a state school, with Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae starting in 1996. At that time, the school came under Southern Cross Campus, with the kura gaining its independence in 2011.

Māriu says the kura benefits from ex-students returning to be teachers, who then reinforce the wairua of the kura into the next generation of students.

Ex-students return as teachers

“We are lucky because over 95% of the teachers here are former students. So we believe in the principles that were established here over 40 years ago. Some whānau are fourth generation here.”

“We had more than 100 students doing NCEA levels 1–3 last year. In New Zealand, some might say that is a small number. But remember, all classes in New Zealand have around 25–30 students per class.”

Mariu says Ngā Tapuwae isn’t resting on its laurels, saying the kura is aiming for another clean sweep for NCEA achievement this year.