At Hato Paora College all students run onto the rugby field for their college and the boys are special – disciplined, respectful and responsible, but above all, special, Pa Anthony Lobb, director of the living environment at the school told some 20 parents and prospective students at the open day last month.
‘We don’t accept the fact that because we’re not big, we’re not good. We spent a lot of money over the Christmas break buying weight equipment for the Years 11 and 12. The gym is probably the most popular room in the school. The younger boys work out with more basic equipment such as old tyres,’ Pa Anthony said.
The visitors were warmly welcomed to Hato Paora on August 3 and the young boys were clearly delighted to be there and excited at the prospect of attending the college.
Years 10 and 11 students sang a powhiri and principal Debra Marshall-Lobb encouraged the visitors to visit all the schools to which they were considering sending their sons so that they could make an informed decision.
Hato Paora aims to turn good boys into great men.
Stressing the firmness of the college’s approach to training the boys, Whaea Debi said it was better ‘to learn what’s appropriate and how far you can go when you’re a teenager. We want them to be loving, caring and resilient. We’ll push them to think about their contribution to the dorm, the school, the Māori community and the nation.’
The boys are expected to learn te reo Māori and to take karakia.
‘In the last year three boys have lost a dad or a mum and they all knew what to do because they had seen it done before. This is an important life lesson.’
Some aspects of Māori education have changed and these are reflected in the school’s approach. ‘Some of you who went to school in the 1960s and 70s will remember that assimilation was the name of the game,’ Whaea Debi said. ‘But we live in enlightened times now.’
She encouraged parents to think in terms of the whole of their son’s secondary education at Hato Paora rather than just one or two years.
‘We want to grow the child into a respectful and responsible adult and to be the best he can be. To do that we need him for five years.’
Learning environment director Victor Herbert told the visitors one of the college’s former students was now an oil tycoon in the United States. But, he said, not everyone will go to university. ‘No matter what your son wants to be, we want him to be the best in that field and the best version of himself as a young man.’
Debra Marshall-Lobb and her husband Anthony Lobb live on site and often eat the evening meal with the boys. Pa Anthony also joins them for karakia and breakfast.
From the time lights go on at 7am the boys have a strict routine which includes dining room duties for the Years 9 and 10 students – ‘to be done quickly and efficiently’ – study after dinner – ‘two hours, no negotiation’ and after-school sports activities – ‘if you are not playing sport, you play sport.’
The college is under the pastoral guidance of the Society of Mary, particularly Fr Chris Martin who has been there for nine years.
The boys learn about the history of the Marist congregation and its part in the development of the Māori mission and the Church in New Zealand from the 1700s.
Timoti Brown and Chelsea Groonveld were at the open day to explore the similarities between Hato Paora and the Steiner School their son Kahuroa currently attends.
Timoti and Chelsea warmed to the idea of putting the child in the centre and nurturing the child at their pace. Kahuroa started in Kohanga Reo before the family moved to Japan for three years. When they returned Kahuroa’s strongest language was Japanese. Timoti and Chelsea not only strongly related to anthroposophical theory but felt that Steiner education provided a nurturing environment for Kahuroa to adjust to living in New Zealand again. This has turned out to be a great decision as Kahuroa is doing well in school and loves to read.
They are now looking for a school grounded in tikanga/kaupapa Māori that continues to nurture and develop young men into worldly and respectable adults.
Anglican minister Stephen Kimberley of Masterton and foster parent of Zarique said he was very impressed with the boys he met at the school who are ‘clearly at home with themselves and comfortable in both te reo and English.
‘They have a presence and can conduct themselves in any forum.’ He is hoping Zarique will be able to go to Hato Paora next year.
Click here for the thoughts of a student after six months at Hato Paora.
Images, from top:
- Hato Paora College Year 10 students Tumateihana Wiperi, Selwyn Te Paa, Tinirau McIIroy, Regan Sword and Stirling Paku with Bishop Charles Drennan.
- Pa Anthony Lobb outlines the day’s routine.
- Bishop Charles Drennan, a big supporter of the college, tells the gathering of his hopes for its future.