WelCom October 2022
Hato Pāora College, a Catholic Māori boarding school for boys in Feilding, will be celebrating its 75th Jubilee over Labour Weekend. It’s a milestone for the kura because it’s one of only three Māori boarding schools left in Aotearoa.
Tumuaki (principal) Nathan Matthews, who attended Hato Pāora as a student in the nineties, says Māori boarding schools have played an important role in Aotearoa in the development of Māori society and leadership, particularly through the 20th century.
‘Māori boarding schools haven’t fared so well in recent times. So this is to celebrate the impact Hato Pāora has had in its 75 years, and of us being an ongoing kura as an option for our communities. We’ve had judges, we’ve had one sir, and they and other leaders have really given back to the community,’ he says.
Some well-known old boys include kapa haka composer Morvin Simon, the first Māori Catholic bishop, Max Mariu, professional rugby players Shannon Paku and Otere Black, Black Sox softballer Brad Rona, judge Damian Stone, and astronomer Rangi Mātāmua.
Located on farmlands in Cheltenham near Feilding, Hato Pāora College was founded in 1948 by the Catholic branch the Society of Mary under the leadership of Marist priest, Fr Issac Gupwell. The vision was to create an environment for boys to grow into young men with strong te reo and tikanga Māori, to promote Catholic and Māori values, to provide a solid education and to encourage achievement and success.
As times have changed and no priests remain, the school has worked to keep the special character alive through whānau links. Some staff are former students and some students are the third generation of their family to attend the college.
Matthews is one of the former pupils who benefited from the school’s teachings and returned as principal in 2018.
‘A highlight for me was regularly being exposed to te reo and tikanga Māori, formally and informally. Above all else, was the camaraderie amongst the students and the development of lifelong friendships. We didn’t have all the flashiest facilities or resources but we made the most of every situation,’ Matthews says.
The Labour Weekend events include a formal banquet dinner, a karaoke night, an archive exhibition, a history book launch and a special Mass to be celebrated by Cardinal John Dew.
Nathan Matthews says there is very strong interest to the Jubilee, particularly from the old boys of the early years of the kura of the 1950s and 60s. ‘We’re looking forward to it as a kura, especially as other Māori schools have closed in the last 25 years. And it will be an important opportunity to explore the future of the kura.’