The South Island’s only kura ā-iwi will soon return home

The new location for Te Pā a Rākaihautū kura at Diamond Harbour. Photo / Tahu News

After 10 years of operating out of temporary premises, Te Pā o Rākaihautū kura is one step closer to obtaining its own site and going back to its ancestral whenua.

The plan is that the kura will relocate to Tuhiraki (Mt Bossu), which is near Diamond Harbour at the foothills of Te Ahupātiki. This is the same location where the school’s namesake, Ngāi Tahu ancestor Rākaihautū, buried his famous kō (digging tool).

Linwood-based Te Pā o Rākaihautu is the South Island’s only kura ā-iwi, a state school mandated by local hapū or iwi. The designated section 156 character school opened in 2015.

The current location of the kura at the Mclean Street property in LInwood, Christchurch. Photo / Tahu News

Te Pā o Rākaihautū is a unique 21st century pā wānanga (learning village) committed to educational success for the whole whānau, from early childhood, primary and secondary schooling to tertiary education, on the one site.

“This is an opportunity to return the land to mana whenua and to create our very own curriculum,” Te Pā a Rākaihautū chairperson Rangimarie Parata-Takurua says.

“Our curriculum has been designed so it’s very place based. Mahinga kai is big within our curriculum and works with the maramataka,” Parata-Takurua says.

“We spend a lot of time staying at all our marae and it’s really important to us that our kids are not seen as manuhiri in these spaces,” she says.

Te Pā a Rākaihautū chairperson Rangimarie Parata-Takurua is delighted the school will have a new home

Since the establishment of the kura in January 2015, the students have been housed on the site of the former Linwood Intermediate School in Christchurch, which had been due for demolition.

But finding a new site with enough room proved difficult over the years until the kura learned about council-owned land at Diamond Point.

The land has been owned by the council since 1913. The block of land, at 27 Hunters Road and 43 Whero Avenue, includes three gullies of regenerating native bush, with the rest of the block leased for grazing.

Te Pā offered to buy part of the site at the same time that Fire and Emergency New Zealand sought to buy some of the land to replace its earthquake-prone fire station in the area.

Tyrone Fields, a city councillor representing Banks Peninsula Ward in Christchurch, says that out of more than 400 submissions, 69 percent favoured the school and 85 percent the fire service.

Christchurch City councillor for the Banks Peninsula ward Tyrone Fields. Photo / Tahu News

‘It came to council after a recommendation from the Banks Peninsula Community Board, which had considered a couple of unsolicited proposals, one from the kura and one from Fire and Emergency New Zealand,” says Councillor Fields.

“I think it’s just been a really good process, in terms of community engagement,” he says.

The proposal to buy 8ha of the Hunters Rd site will see Te Pā retain its city site, with the intention to approximately double the current roll across the two campuses.

It will take eight minutes to reach the new kura at Diamond Harbour by ferry from the city, or 40 minutes by car.

The map shows the current site of Te Pā o Rākaihautū and the future site out Diamond Harbour. Photo // Tahu News

Parata-Takurua says the school will work with the Ministry of Education and the city council to develop a practical transport plan.

“It offers an opportunity economically with moving a couple of hundred kids every day backwards and forwards across the harbour,” she says

“For us, the class begins by the time they’re hopping on that boat. Linwood would become the transport hub. If whānau can get them to Linwood, then we take it from there,” she says.

Map showing current site of Te Pā o Rākaihautū and the future site out Diamond Harbour.