Secondary school graduating to a new tertiary home

Massey University Vice Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas (L) along with Rangitāne kaumātua Manu Kawana and Ngāti Kauwhata kaumātua Dennis Emery turning the first sod.

A secondary school forging a new path for Māori education took a big step today, with the site blessing of its $20million building project in Palmerston North.

Manukura is a special character school dedicated to academic, sporting and cultural excellence and for the past 16 years it has operated in temporary premises. In 2018, the Ministry of Education announced it would commit $20m to pay for a new school complex.  

In the first partnership agreement of its kind, Manukura’s new development will be built on Massey University’s Manawatū campus providing students with an integral link to the tertiary environment.

Manukura Principal Nathan Durie says the partnership reflects the school’s focus on the importance of education. “This will allow us to create a pipeline of learning as well as exposing our students to the Massey environment, teaching, research and facilities.  Our new campus will also stand close by to Te Pūtahi-a-Toi, reaffirming a longstanding connection that is an important to us.”

The relationship between Massey University and Manukura dates back to 2005 when the school was first established and based at Massey University's Hokowhitu Campus.  Founding Assistant Vice Chancellor Māori, Emeritus Professor Sir Mason Durie, alongside Manawatū Campus Regional Director Emeritus Professor Ian Warrington, were instrumental in establishing ongoing provision of support by Massey University.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas says the new development will bring new opportunities for both parties.

“Along with Massey University’s ongoing strategic commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, this partnership represents a further pathway for engagement and contribution to Māori educational success, something we’re very committed to.” 

Concept designs for the new MANUKURA Secondary School.

Principal Nathan Durie says the school has been given the opportunity to design a truly fit-for purpose campus that embodies the Manukura ethos.

“Our design has been guided by our experience over the past 16 years to accommodate a level of flexibility that is kaupapa-driven and student centric and therefore malleable so students can operate both individually and as part of a collective.

“We also see the new campus as having accessibility by the wider Massey community and wider Palmerston North community.  We want to be able to open our doors to share something of our unique kaupapa. Our evolving curriculum design requires spaces and people to collaboratively engage and extend our students' world. Equally, our longstanding partnership with Massey University now provides massive potential to build new pathways for our students into tertiary studies.”

Manukura is an educational model that enables rangatahi to excel and was born out of a desire to change the landscape of Māori education. Its formula of individually tailored student programmes using face to face and self-directed online learning coupled with a focus on excellence has seen its roll of 95 per cent Māori students achieving well above national NCEA and university entrance standards. It has also nurtured some of the country’s best young sports people in multiple codes and also holds top titles in cultural events such as Ngā Manu Kōrero.

At the site blessing yesterday, university staff, Palmerston North city councillors, Ministry of Education representatives and key sponsors joined Manukura staff and students for karakia and the breaking of the new ground.  A number of Rangitāne and Tahuriwakanui kaumātua and representatives were also in attendance to help lead the proceedings, reaffirming the close and longstanding links within both groups. Despite the light drizzle, acknowledgements and waiata were shared and then individuals took turns at turning in the sod.

Nathan Durie sees the project is a beacon for Māori education. “Today represents an exciting milestone that enables Manukura to continue to transcend an educational paradigm that has for too long disempowered our people.  Our new campus and our developing partnership with Massey will help ensure that our students can reach new heights.” 

The new school campus is expected to be completed in 2022.







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