New principal building relationships
The new principal of Hapuku School hopes to grow the student roll and deepen the special characteristics of te reo Ma¯ori, as well as strengthen ties with the community.
Tai Huata, who hails from Te Rohe Po¯tae, the King Country, has been an educator for 30 years, mostly in the Waikato and later in Canterbury. He was working at Te Kuiti High School when the position of principal at Hapuku School came up.
‘‘First I want to come in and be part of the school and build relationships with the students and the community, making a safe place again for the school after the earthquake, and just be able to enhance the special character of the school which is te reo and tikanga,’’ he said.
Huata comes from a strong educational background and anytime he can he’ll grab the chance to learn.
‘‘I’ve always been taught education is a powerful tool, and it is very important to me.
‘‘I’ve been taught no matter what type of education it is, whether it be in the classroom, or the bush, it’s important to all of us.’’
Hapuku School is a bi-lingual school, and although all the staff speak te reo Ma¯ori to some degree, Huata would like to deepen the understanding of te reo.
‘‘It’s our indigenous language and one of the official languages of New Zealand.
‘‘More than half of the place names in Aotearoa have Ma¯ori place names, and talk about the history of the area and might be associated with an ancestor, or tipuna.’’
When travelling overseas, Huata said he was always asked if he could speak the language, because people knew Ma¯ori were the indigenous people and wanted to be taught a few phrases.
The experienced educator has many talents having performed overseas as part of Hastings-based Kahurangi Ma¯ori Dance Theatre, contributing to the renaissance of Ma¯ori Performing Arts and educational theatre in school.
He is passionate about the performing arts of drama, music and kapa haka, declaring it as one of his strengths.
Huata wants his pupils to carry on these traditions and contribute as members of their iwi.
‘‘It’s about the intergenerational transmission of knowledge, being able to tell the stories and passing on the knowledge of the generations that went before.
‘‘It is our younger generation that’s going to carry on with what our forebears put in place and it’s about ensuring they have the language and the tikanga, or culture, to make them proud of who they are,’’ Huata said.
Tai Huata is the new principal of Hapuku Primary School.