WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Hāto Pāora College – providing a unique Catholic Māori Education for boys

WelCom September 2019:

Tā Mātou Kaupapa – Our Mission: Taking Good Boys and Growing them in to Great Young Men.

Annette Scullion

Dr Nathan Matthews, Tumuaki (principal) Hāto Pāoro College.

Tumuaki (principal) of Hāto Pāoro College, Dr Nathan Matthews (Nga Puhi), has now been in the job for a year. A well-known and respected old boy of the school he took over as principal in term four, 2018.

Located north of Feilding on farming fields near Cheltenham in the Manawatū, Hāto Pāora was founded by the Society of Mary in 1947 under the leadership of Marist priest, Isaac J Gupwell, to provide Catholic Māori Boy’s education. Today it is the largest boys’ Māori boarding secondary school in New Zealand with a current roll of 128 students and aspirations to grow to 160 full-time students.

‘There’s lot of positivity in this school and renewed interest, especially because I’m an old boy and parent of two boys who have recently been through the school’, says Dr Matthews. Last year his son Caleb Matthews was head boy.

‘I’ve been involved in tertiary and secondary education for 20 years and did my PhD on Hāto Pāora, which has given me another insight to the college. Hāto Pāora has always been dear to my heart so it’s been inevitable at some point for me to end up here,’ he says.

Since completing his PhD at the University of Otago in 2006, Dr Matthews has been a visible kura (leader) holding leadership and senior academic positions at University of Otago, Massey University, Whangarei school Te Kura o Hourua o Whangarei Terenga Pararoa, where he was founding principal, and most recently, the school of indigenous graduate studies at Te Whare Wānanga of Awanuiarang, in Whakatane.

Living by Catholic Māori faith and cultural values.

Hāto Pāora provides a full curriculum in academic, music, sporting and cultural opportunities.

‘At Hāto Pāora we have a legacy that goes back 75 years while being prepared for next 75 years founded on the Society of Mary Charism of humility and services. Essentially my leadership is based on this legacy and enabling education that comes in many forms. I want our boys to take advantage of the many opportunities here, be encouraged to make their own life decisions that are right for them – be it trade, tertiary, professional; and to have confidence in themselves and thrive as young Māori.

The school provides a unique environment where the norm is to blend Catholic faith with Māori culture, where the boys can be bi-lingual and bi-cultural Māori, Catholic and male and grow that confidence in the love of Marist and Catholic Māori values.’

Te Reo Māori is compulsory as is religious education. ‘Our whole curriculum is grounded in our special character so that Māori knowledge and Catholic belief is validated throughout. Being a boarding school, the boys live on site at the hostel. This provides opportunities to grow friendships, bonds and a consistency in living out our values at school and the hostel. Every morning there is chapel at school and every evening a service at the hostel before study.

‘We are lucky to have Fr David Gledhill sm closely connected with the school who visits to celebrate Mass every week.

‘One of the special features is singing and it is seen as core for the school. All here are good at singing and perform widely in the community. Singing is a status here and the boys are proud of it.’

The boys attend chapel service at the school every morning. Photos: Supplied

The school holds open days during the year for prospective students and their parents to consider Hāto Pāora for their sons. Students enrol from all around the country and some from overseas, notably Australia. ‘Hāto Pāora is well above the national average in terms of achievement and increasingly we are seeing second and third generation sons coming here from whānau wanting to connect their sons back to New Zealand.

‘It’s early days for me but I am committed to growing the legacy of providing good education and growing good young men who had foundation in faith and culture – but being prepared for a place the modern world.

‘Anything is possible coming out of a little school like ours.’

Ko koe ia, e te Atua tangata, oma tau i ēnei; whāia te tika, te karakia pai, te whakapono, te aroha, te manawanui, te ngakau mahaki. 1 Timoti 6:11, 12

But you, man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness. 1 Timothy 6:11, 12