Friday 23 June 2017

Upgrade connects Northland kura with better future

Māori education in Northland is getting a substantial boost in resources with two large building projects in the latter stages of design.
The upgrades represent a $19 million investment. One is a transfer to a new site and the other is a redevelopment of an existing kura, but each will include flexible teaching spaces to enable teachers and students to work in a modern learning environment, plus 21st Century technology to connect students to the world well beyond their isolated Far North locations.
Both will include facilities for remote learning either in a dedicated suite or utilising mobile technology within the learning areas, providing video conferencing facilities. This remote technology can be used by specialist teachers who live away from the kura, as far away as the South Island.
Te Kura Kaupapa o Te Tonga o Hokianga is being relocated from its current site to a new permanent site at Koutu Point, Hokianga, with all new facilities.
The existing kura at Whirinaki is made up predominantly of temporary buildings on a leased, undersized site prone to flooding, and lacks specialist learning facilities that senior students need for subjects such as science.
The new kura is being built on a more suitable site on flat land adjacent to the Hokianga Harbour, as part of a $12.4 million project comprising new classrooms, library, administration, gymnasium/ multipurpose space, remote learning suite and other features. The existing school will continue operating until the new kura is complete.
It will accommodate up to 150 students and can be expanded to cater for up to 200 (the maximum permitted by the designation).
Detailed planning is continuing and construction will begin late 2017, with the build to take approximately twelve months.
Another school, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Taumarere, is also starting a new chapter in its evolution. It is being redeveloped to provide improved facilities to provide quality education resources for both senior and junior students, with a combination of new buildings, extensions and upgraded existing facilities.
Currently, the kura is a mix of new, old and temporary buildings which reflect the changes over its 22-year history. Originally, it was for junior students only.
Until 2010 the kura provided education for students in years 1-8 but a subsequent change of class to years 1-13 requires a substantial upgrade in facilities including specialist teaching areas for science, technology, art and design, a gymnasium and cultural space associated with its new wharekura status.
The $6.9 million project has been designed to allow further expansion for future growth in student numbers, as well as upgraded facilities. Since the project was approved there has been substantial (and unpredicted) growth in student numbers. Options for accommodating further growth are allowed for in the agreed master plan.
Once the project is complete, senior students will have permanent teaching spaces suitable for senior students through conversion of existing buildings into innovative learning environments suitable for their needs.
There will also be five new permanent learning spaces for junior students to replace existing temporary buildings.