BY Clinton Llewellyn

See video here:

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Wānanga o Whare Tapere o Takitimuprincipal Fleur Wainohu acknowledged the school’s planned move to the site of the old Arataki Motor Camp by 2017 had caused some disquiet in the community.

“Even though there’s been some negative responses there’s been some really positive, inspiring, motivating … feedback that we’ve received as well.

“For us, the relocation to Havelock North is very exciting and what we can offer the community is just huge. We have so much to give … not just for Maori,” she said.

Wainohu confirmed the total Maori immersion school officially received “wharekura status" from the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata - which will allow the school to expand to accommodate high schoolers as well as primary school students - when the minister visited the region two weeks ago.

So we had a meeting with her where she formally gave us the letter, the seal of approval, for moving forward with wharekura in 2016.”

Wainohu said her kura kaupapa had a current role of 70  but had been "hindered" by the size of the leased premises in Albert St in Hastings it had been operating out of for nearly 20 years.

She confidently predicted the school would grow at the new 2.8 hectare site, where the school's new premises are due to be completed by the end of 2017.

Feedback from the education department was that the site was large enough to cater for 600 students, but that was a long way off, Wainohu said.

"We've got good relationships with all our early childhood kohanga reo facilities so we are confident we will grow at the site out there.

“But we are not saying ‘boom’ we are going to have 600 students all of a sudden. It's just good to have an estimated figure for safety and welfare how many students can be on the actual site,” she said.

Wainohu pointed to a visit yesterday to Havelock North Primary by the school’s senior kapa haka group - the Hawke's Bay primary school champions who will travel to Palmerston North at the end of the year to represent  the region at the national championships - as “a little taste" of what the school had to offer.

"They were like ' wow, you guys are amazing'.”

The Minister of Education, Hekia Parata and Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye announced the new school in the May budget as part of a $244 million investment in new schools, additional classrooms and expansions to existing schools.

The announcement caught out many by surprise, including their ministerial colleague and Tukituki MP, Craig Foss, who claimed he had no knowledge of the plan.

Yesterday he said:  "I am aware that Hon Hekia Parata has recently approved the change of class for Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Wānanga o Whare Tapere o Takitimu in Hastings from a year 1-8 kura to become a year 1-13 wharekura.

"In regards to the construction of the new buildings on Arataki Road I will be working to ensure that the Ministry of Education keeps the community fully informed throughout this process," he said.