St Stephens School Old Boys Seek Possible Reopening
St Stephens School Old Boys Seek Possible
Talk of a once proud boarding school reopening could be the proverbial Phoenix of Maori education.
Established in 1844, St Stephens sits empty since its closure in 2000.
St Stephens old boy Joe Harawira is part of a small band that has kept the school’s reopening "in the consciousness of the Anglican Church and school's trust board since 2003".
With a feasibility study on the reopening due for completion in November this year, Mr Harawira is calling on the school's greatest resource; former students.
"As old boys we need to provide a unified position in relation to the feasibility working group.
"We need to feed into them so they understand our thinking."
And it's not about chasing former glories but looking to the future says Mr Harawira.
"Ultimately it’s about providing the best platform to grow future Maori leaders and for St Stephens to be the school of choice."
The call comes at an opportune time says old boy Bernard Te Paa, general manager, Maori Health for Counties Manukau District Health Board.
"We're in a space where there is definitely a focus to how Maori boys are educated at secondary school."
As deputy chairman of the Hato Paora Board, another Maori boys' boarding school, Mr Te Paa understands the challenges.
"What does excellence look like and what are the education priorities of Maori parents with young boys?
"Fluency in te reo Maori and tikanga, being business savvy in the modern world, and being at the top of their game both academically and in a sporting sense are some of those priorities."
A positive partnership with the church and trust board has emerged after a decade of effort says the pair.
And coupled with a recent groundswell of interest from old boys across the country, online and overseas, a national hui is being called for April 6.
Mr Harawira says electing a national committee "will formalise and strengthen the cause for reopening the school".
“The old boys' are the backbone of our school and we need to consolidate under one umbrella. There's many ways that a national association can support both the trust board and a school in the future.”