The Hukarere Story 1991 – 1995

The struggle against insurmountable odds to reopen a Maori girls’ school.

“If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.” – Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey (1872-1927), preeminent Ghanaian scholar, educator and missionary.

Hukarere in Napier has been known by a few names. When she was started in 1875 she was the Hukarere Native School for Girls, then became Hukarere Girls’ School. After 1969 she became Hukarere Hostel. During the time of this story we knew her simply as Hukarere; we thought that quite elegant. Now in her new phase she is known as Hukarere Girls’ College.

Hukarere’s struggle for survival has for decades been a struggle against male dominance. In 1969 her school was closed to ensure the survival of Te Aute College. Again in 1991 her hostel was closed to ensure the survival of Te Aute College. In both cases it was Te Aute that was in financial crisis and losing money, not Hukarere. However Hukarere triumphed against the odds and in 1993 she was reopened and rededicated as a full school with a boarding option.

The Reopening & Rededication of a School 1993 – 1995

This is a personal memoir of the struggle to reopen and rededicate Hukarere in the closing decade of the 20th Century, nearly 120 years after she was first opened in 1875. It is the inside story that has not been publicly told until now.

I am telling it firstly to place on public record the history of that struggle. Secondly, as with all or most successful community projects there have been many who have claimed the credit and even the main credit for its success. Some were only marginally involved and some not at all. The human mind is so wonderfully adept at constructing narratives of self praise, not entirely based in the facts.

It is also to pay tribute to two Hukarere Old Girls who led the struggle, who recruited me to the cause and who insisted that I join them as a co-conspirator in their quest; Awhina Waaka and Alyson Bullock.

This narrative is a tribute too to the many others who were involved in the struggle, Old Girls, whanau, friends and supporters too numerous to name but they and we know who they were. And to the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust, and to Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa led by the late Rt Rev Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe and Rt Rev Bishop Paraone Turei, without whose moral and financial support Hukarere would have remained closed.

For the many who were immersed in the project in those difficult years the Hukarere struggle defined us. It was all consuming. From it I think we all learned something about ourselves and about the power of vision, faith and commitment.

I have not been involved with Hukarere since about 2000. She survives still although her owners on Te Aute Trust Board placed an intolerable burden upon her a few years ago by offering her property to the bank as security for a very bad investment. I understand that burden remains.

The late Hon Parekura Horomia MP was involved at the time of his death in her latest project to re-erect her beautiful chapel at the new Esk Valley school site. It was first built at the Napier Hill site under the aegis of Sir Apirana Ngata and was one of his last projects. During the struggle to reopen Hukarere the chapel was a quiet welcoming refuge and in many ways was both the physical and spiritual locus of the struggle. The girls of course were always the main focus of our efforts.

What follows was written in 2009.

This Hukarere narrative is based on the records and recollections of the writer alone. A complete picture would require input from Mrs Awhina Waaka and Mrs Alyson Bullock, both of Napier. They may yet write their own memoirs. Both attended Hukarere themselves and were the prime movers in re-opening Hukarere after she was completely closed in 1991.

Te Aute Trust Board Group

To explain the relationships, the Anglican Church’s Te Aute Trust Board owns both Te Aute College at Pukehou and Hukarere Girls’ College at Napier. From about 1995 onwards both Te Aute and Hukarere were members of Te Runanga O Paerangi, a Maori boarding schools collective supported by Ministry of Education.

During the period of this narrative the writer was:

  •  a member of Te Aute Trust Board of the Anglican Church from 1991 to 2000,
  • a member of the Te Aute College Board of Trustees from 1991 to 2000,
  • Chairman of Te Whanau O Hukarere Inc from 1992 to 2000,
  • a member of the Hukarere School Board of Trustees from 1995 to 2000,
  • Chairman of The Hukarere Foundation (a charitable trust) from 1992 to 2000, and
  • Chairman of Te Runanga O Paerangi (Maori Boarding Schools Collective) from 1996 to 2000.

As well as participating in the reopening and rededication of Hukarere, the writer also led a small team that rescued Te Aute College from financial insolvency during the same period from 1991 to 1994.

Types of School

Throughout this narrative the terms private school and integrated school are used. Some explanation is necessary in order to understand the Hukarere reopening process.

A state school is totally owned and funded by the Ministry of Education.

A private school is completely owned and operated by its owner/proprietor. The Ministry of Education pays a grant towards the operation of the school, equal at the time of this story to about 25% of the operating grant paid to a state school. A private school requires approval from Ministry of Education to operate. A private school is generally able to set its own curriculum, within the constraints of the 25% funding agreement with government which requires adherence to the core state curriculum. Its governance and management arrangements are its own business.

An integrated school is owned by its proprietors, in this case the Anglican Church through its Te Aute Trust Board. The Board is responsible for owning and operating the hostels. It also owns the school buildings and is responsible for their upkeep and replacement if necessary. The Ministry of Education pays for and operates the school.

Short History of Hukarere

Both Hukarere Girls’ College and Te Aute College are integrated schools owned by Te Aute Trust Board. Te Aute College was founded in 1851, and Hukarere Native School for Girls in 1875.

In 1969 Hukarere was a private school and was closed ostensibly due to financial difficulties. In fact Hukarere was not losing money but Te Aute College was, and the suspicion among the Hukarere Old Girls is that Hukarere was closed in order to save Te Aute. This closure happened before the Government intervened to integrate and save many private schools from closure. Hukarere continued to function as a hostel, and the girls attended Napier Girls High School for 23 years.

In December 1991 Te Aute Trust Board resolved to close the Hukarere Hostel as well, ostensibly because it was losing money. The suspicion among Hukarere Old Girls was that again it was closed in order to save Te Aute. This seemed to be confirmed by the decision of Te Aute Trust Board and Te Aute College Board of Trustees to make Te Aute a co-educational boarding school, and to transfer girls from the Hukarere Hostel to Te Aute College. In fact Te Aute College was suffering financial difficulties at the time.

The writer was present in December 1991 at Hukarere when the staff, hostel committee, boarders and their whanau were told of the decision to close.

Just over a year later Hukarere was reopened then rededicated on Waitangi Day 1993 as a private school and hostel. It was the first time the school itself had operated since it was closed in 1969 over 23 years earlier. It was then owned and operated as a private school from February 1993 to April 1995 by the Hukarere Foundation (not by Te Aute Trust Board). During the two years and four months that Hukarere was a private school the buildings and grounds on Napier Hill were leased from Te Aute Trust Board by the Hukarere Foundation.

It became an integrated school, with the school’s operations and salaries funded by government, in April 1995. On integration the school and hostel were returned to ownership of Te Aute Trust Board.

Organising to Save Hukarere — 1991/1992

On the day Hukarere Hostel was closed in December 1991 the writer was approached by Mrs Alyson Bullock to join with the Old Girls to try to reopen Hukarere. Alyson was also a member of Te Aute Trust Board, and a member of the Hukarere Hostel Committee, and she had two girls boarding at Hukarere.

I had a personal reason for joining them other than being appalled by the decision to close. My godson’s late mother, Kuini Ellison (nee Smith), who had been one of my early mentors, had been a Hukarere pupil, a member of Te Aute Trust Board and matron of Hukarere Hostel. She was for most of her life a staunch advocate for Hukarere. On the day Hukarere School was closed in 1969 she sat on the steps at Hukarere and wept. The godson told me that his mother would come back to haunt me if I didn’t reopen her school. I reckoned he was right.

As Bishop Brown Turei, Alyson Bullock and myself were all members of the Trust Board we petitioned the Board to allow twelve girls to remain at the hostel under private arrangements so that they could complete their schooling at Napier Girls High School. The request was granted.

The support group called Te Whanau O Hukarere then named those girls Nga Ahi Kaa, to recognize that it was important to keep a full-time presence at Hukarere while it organized to reopen. Throughout 1992 staff and supporters ran the hostel on a voluntary basis, and the girls’ whanau paid fees to cover the reduced running costs. However a number of the other Hukarere girls transferred to Te Aute College at the beginning of 1992.

Te Whanau O Hukarere

Te Whanau O Hukarere comprising Old Girls, boarders and their whanau, supporters and friends, then conducted a series of hui at Napier to garner support for an effort to reopen both school and hostel. In about August/September 1992 a formal resolution was passed to reopen Hukarere School and Hostel. The resolution was supported by the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust, all descendants of the two Bishops Williams.

A formal resolution appointed two Old Girls, Awhina Waaka and Alyson Bullock, and myself (Ross Himona), with the full executive authority of Te Whanau O Hukarere to reopen Hukarere by whatever means possible. That resolution was signed on behalf of Te Whanau O Hukarere by Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe (Bishop of Aotearoa), Bishop Brown Turei (Bishop of Te Tai Rawhiti) and Bishop Murray Mills (Bishop of Waiapu).

Late in 1992 I registered Te Whanau O Hukarere Inc as an incorporated society. I was appointed Chairman and held the appointment until 2000.

Hukarere Foundation

Late in 1992 also the Hukarere Foundation was registered as a charitable trust to facilitate fundraising and to gain tax free status for the intended school and hostel. Three trustees were appointed; Awhina Waaka, Alyson Bullock and myself. I was appointed Chair of the Foundation (by the two women).

Negotiating with Te Aute Trust Board and Te Aute College – 1992

From September to December 1992 we three negotiated with Te Aute Trust Board and Te Aute College to allow Hukarere to reopen as an outpost of Te Aute College in February 1993.

We also conferred regularly with a very supportive Ministry of Education, through its Lower Hutt regional office. The Ministry was able to advise on the various options for reopening Hukarere. One option they presented was to open as a private school with a hostel, and then to negotiate with the Ministry and with Te Aute Trust Board to convert to an integrated school.

At a meeting at Te Aute College in early December 1992 both Te Aute Trust Board and Te Aute College emphatically rejected the request to operate as an outpost of Te Aute College.

We had anticipated rejection and I immediately proposed to the Trust Board that Hukarere Foundation lease the Hukarere grounds and buildings with a view to opening a private school. The lease offer of $1.00 per annum was accepted by Te Aute Trust Board on the recommendation of the Board’s Secretary/Treasurer on the basis that it was costing the Board $50,000 pa in holding costs and that a lease for $1 would save the Board $49,999 pa. The $1 coin was rolled across the boardroom table.

At that point most of the trustees of Te Aute Trust Board probably did not believe that the Hukarere Foundation would be successful.

Application to Reopen Hukarere as a Private School

However at about midday on Christmas Eve 1992 I delivered a fully prepared application to operate a private school to the Lower Hutt regional office of Ministry of Education. It included a full curriculum plan prepared by Awhina.

The regional manager had agreed to wait in his office for the application to be delivered, and also undertook to process the application as quickly as possible. Approval of the application required the agreement of the Minister.

Reopening Hukarere as a Private School — 1993 to 1995

A few weeks later in mid to late January 1993 the Ministry of Education issued a formal approval to operate Hukarere as a private school with attached hostel. The notification was received at Hukarere a few days later. The approval contained a requirement to complete certain building works in order to comply with Ministry regulations.

The approval named Awhina Waaka, Alyson Bullock and Ross Himona as owners, operators and managers of Hukarere School. We three actually owned Hukarere for just over two years.

We set the opening date for Monday 1st February 1993, just ten days after receiving approval, and the official opening ceremony and celebration was to be held five days later on Waitangi Day 6th February 1993.

The approval had been anticipated and arrangements for the classroom block to be refurbished to minimal Ministry of Education requirements and brought up to minimal OSH standard had been made. After consultation with Bishop Vercoe, who agreed to fund the $96,000 needed for the work, the refurbishment began immediately approval was received from Ministry of Education. It was completed shortly before the opening ceremony and celebration.

Within Hukarere Foundation the three trustees agreed that Awhina Waaka would be Curriculum Director, Alyson Bullock would be Hostel Director, and Ross Himona would be Finance & Business Director. Alyson Bullock took annual leave to act as Hostel Matron until a permanent matron could be appointed. The outgoing hostel matron agreed to stay on for a short period to help. Hukarere could not afford to appoint a principal and Awhina Waaka fulfilled that role for over two years, in addition to her job at the Education Review Office.

We agreed that all decisions would be taken unanimously by the three directors when all were present, but that as all three of us had full-time jobs and it would not be possible for all three to be present most of the time, whoever was on-site would make all necessary decisions across all areas, The other two would unconditionally support whatever decisions were made in their absence. Consequently all three of us acted as Curriculum Director (Principal), Hostel Director (Matron) and Finance & Business Director from time to time. Contrary to what a few thought we were not paid either then or later.

Four teachers, one hostel supervisor and a cook were hired, and given just ten days to prepare both school and hostel to open.

The Opening

Hukarere was reopened as a private school and hostel as scheduled on 1st February 1993 and rededicated on Waitangi Day 1993. At the insistence of the two Old Girls on the team the keynote speech at the rededication was delivered by the writer and is attached. The school opened with a small number of pupils, many of whom had been members of Nga Ahi Kaa who remained at Hukarere throughout 1992.

Funding a Private School

On opening day Hukarere Foundation had a negative balance in its accounts.

Church Funding and Support

After the opening ceremony the writer was called to Bishop Turei’s office to meet with Bishop Vercoe. He asked how much the Foundation was in debt and on being told the opening debt was about $36,000 he handed over a signed blank cheque to cover the deficit. That was on top of the $96,000 Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa had paid to refurbish the classroom block.

At a later date Te Kahui Wahine O Te Pihopatanga O Aotearoa (through Mrs Doris Vercoe and Mrs Mihi Turei) provided a loan of $50,000. It was later repaid.

The St John’s College Trust bursaries were paid to Hukarere. They were initially worth a total of $50,000 pa reducing later to $30,000 pa.

Te Pihopatanga O Te Tai Rawhiti and Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa worked closely with Hukarere Foundation. Ministry was of course provided by Bishop Turei, Archdeacon Joe Akuhata-Brown and local minita-a-iwi. Bishop Turei’s whanau was also intimately involved and they gave unstintingly of their time and expertise.

Boarding fees were charged for the pupils but the balance of the costs of the hostel, and most of the costs of the school were covered by fundraising until the school was integrated in April 1995, a period of two years and four months.

Koha — Cash and Kind

For the whole of that period Hukarere was funded mostly by koha of cash and kind. The Foundation’s bankers were sympathetic and allowed a generous if not large overdraft.

Much of the curricular and non-curricular activity was provided by volunteers. Some local teachers taught classes in their spare time, and members of Te Whanau O Hukarere relieved in the hostel when required. Community volunteers (including the NZ Police Youth Aid officer) ran various extra-curricular programs including sport. Medical and nursing coverage was provided free of charge.

The Maori Wardens were provided with a patrol base at Hukarere, and they patrolled the dormitories and grounds from time to time every night to ensure that the girls stayed in and the boys stayed out. The Wardens also came to know all of the girls and were able to pick up those who broke out of dorm and were seen at parties and other places.

Te Taiwhenua O Te Whanganui-A-Orutu, the local branch of Te Runanganui O Ngati Kahungunu rallied behind the cause and provided much voluntary assistance.

Many businesses also provided assistance. Tradesmen reduced their charges, Carter Holt provided building materials at cost, Levenes provided paint below cost, and all suppliers were generous in approving credit facilities over an extended period. A nearby gymnasium agreed to provide their facilities at a charge of just $1 per girl per visit. A local supplier of electronic office equipment sourced good quality second hand equiipment for us and installed it at cost.

Service groups such as Rotary and Lions took on projects to help Hukarere. The Presbyterian Ladies Auxiliary ran cake stalls to raise funds.

Napier City Council provided free library facilities in a special section within the Napier Public Library, including buying books specifically for use by Hukarere. The Council also provided free access to all of its sporting facilities.

The marine scientists at the National Aquarium on the Napier Foreshore provided part of the science curriculum and involved the girls in their onshore and offshore projects with dolphins and seals. Massey University donated a quantity of laboratory equipment for the science programme. Various schools donated books and other classroom resources.

Food for the hostel was provided at reduced rates by local suppliers and from a number of other sources.

Moteo Marae collected all of the scraps from the Hukarere kitchen for their pigs. In return they raised pigs for Hukarere. Local orchardists and market gardeners provided good quality seconds free of charge. A local fishing company occasionally donated kaimoana. Whanau also contributed whenever they could. The writer would sometimes return from visits to Waikaremoana with a boot full of donated trout and venison.

Many others not mentioned above provided cash and kind.

Major Funders

Throughout the whole period the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust were very supportive providing grants as they were able, and helping the Hukarere Foundation to cover some major expenditure at critical times. The reopening of Hukarere would not have been possible without them.

After the Trust Board and Ministry of Education decided in March 1995 to integrate Hukarere, the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust and other members of the Williams whanau took me aside. They told me that they had not been funding Hukarere, or a project, or Maori gilrs’ education; but that they had been funding the vision, faith and commitment of three people. We three were of course supported by a large number of other volunteers who subscribed totally to the vision, faith and commitment that drove the project.

Other Funds

At financially crucial times two residential sections owned by Hukarere were sold, against our better instincts, but without those sales survival was not assured. One sale was necessary to pay $90,000 for the removal of asbestos from the Hukarere buildings. Without that Hukarere would have been closed before integration could be achieved.

As a private school Hukarere received operating funding from Ministry of Education equivalent to 25% of the operating grant to state and integrated schools.

Funding Priorities

Throughout the whole of the period as a private school the main financial priority was to provide food for the girls and salaries for the paid staff. Every cent of expenditure was rigidly scrutinised before being approved.

Consequently there was very little money available for classroom resources, including class sets of books. The teachers were required to develop innovative strategies to compensate, and they coped magnificently. Notwithstanding the financial constraints Hukarere did manage to slowly acquire a range of resources for the classrooms.

The Foundation missed paying salaries only once, and then only for about five days until funds were raised. On one other occasion there was no money in the accounts on the eve of a payday but the necessary $12,000 was raised overnight.

As is normal in boarding schools the girls complained often about not having enough food but they were weighed periodically as part of the medical service to Hukarere. None lost weight and most put on weight.

The Hukarere Business Manager

Late in 1992 Hukarere Foundation hired Mr. Des Lanigan, a staunch Presbyterian and a retired banker, as business manager. He served in that capacity through the private school period and for a few more years after integration.

His was an enormous contribution in closely managing the Hukarere finances, building and maintaining an excellent relationship with Hukarere’s bankers and with the Napier business community, and personally overseeing a great deal of the fundraising.

 A Dilemma — Insolvency

By August 1994 Hukarere Foundation was technically insolvent and owed about $250,000. We three trustees were under considerable stress and in danger of losing a large part of our collective private assets, mainly homes.

Awhina Waaka left for a short holiday in Australia and told Alyson and myself that she would support whatever decisions we made. We met at Hukarere to decide what to do. After studying the financial situation in detail we concluded that whilst there was a large deficit on one side of the ledger, there was still faith & hope & prayer on the other.

We decided to continue whatever the consequences. Remarkably the debt was cleared within six months.

The Total Cost

The total cost of opening and operating Hukarere until it was integrated has never been calculated. The full cost would take into account the funds raised, the value of koha in cash and kind, and the voluntary performance of many duties that would normally be paid as part of the operating costs of a school and hostel.

The actual cost would amount to several million dollars.

And even though that was enough to reopen Hukarere as a private school, and later to see her integrated, the real capital costs of opening a school whose buildings and teaching facilities fully complied with Ministry of Education standards were only deferred.

Academic Performance as a Private School

The school roll gradually increased over the first two years as a private school to about 50 pupils. In both of those years Hukarere was inspected by the Education Review Office (ERO) and received excellent reports, although the curriculum was quite limited. ERO also commented favourably on the organization of Hukarere into four whanau, in which managers, teachers, non-teaching staff, parents and whanau participated with the pupils. Each whanau was led by elected pupil leaders. It was not just a whanau concept but a total school concept.

Integration – 1995

The goal was always to integrate Hukarere so that the full operating costs and salaries of the school (but not the hostel) would be met by the Ministry of Education. To do that the Te Aute Trust Board had to agree and the Minister of Education had to approve integration.

The mainly male Trust Board was initially not willing to take on the role of Proprietor of another school other than Te Aute College. The trustees would have to be convinced but in the meantime Hukarere Foundation opened negotiations with the Ministry.

Hukarere hired a firm of educational consultants who had all been involved in writing the Integration Act and regulations when they were members of the former Department of Education. The owner of the firm had been a Deputy Secretary in the Department, responsible for the writing and implementation of the Integration Act. With their expert help and with a lot of goodwill from the Ministry an agreement was negotiated. Some innovative solutions to some thorny obstacles were found and agreed.

In reality Hukarere did not meet the full requirements to warrant integration, specifically building standards, and the Ministry (and Minister) bent over backwards to grant the application.

The main and potentially devastating requirement of the agreement was that Te Aute Trust Board (or Hukarere Foundation in lieu) would have to raise considerable capital to upgrade the classroom block within two years of integration. At that point in 1995 the capital was not available, and was never to become available, leading to negotiations with Ministry of Education for a number of years to extend the period beyond the required two years.

However Te Whanau O Hukarere and Hukarere Foundation decided to proceed and called a Hui-A-Iwi at Kohupatiki Marae in about March 1995 to discuss integration. All members of Te Aute Trust Board attended, as did the trustees of the H & W Williams Memorial Trust, five bishops, Professor Whatarangi Winiata, staff and students and their whanau, local iwi, and many other members of the broad grouping Te Whanau O Hukarere.

The case for integration was put and strongly supported by the hui, but the majority of Te Aute Trust Board members were still opposed. The members in favour were of course Bishop Turei, Alyson Bullock and myself.

Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe, Bishop Brown Turei, Bishop Murray Mills, Bishop Muru Walters, Bishop John Gray and Professor Whatarangi Winiata then deliberated and strongly advised the trustees of Te Aute Trust Board (who alone were empowered to decide) to proceed with integration. The Trust Board accepted their advice and agreed.

The integration agreement was signed in the Hukarere Chapel about a month later in April 1995. Ownership of the school passed from Awhina, Alyson and Ross back to Te Aute Trust Board.

Early Days of an Integrated School

Upon integration Hukarere Foundation was replaced by an appointed and elected Board of Trustees. The three trustees of Hukarere Foundation, and former owners of Hukarere as a private school, were appointed to the Board of Trustees as representatives of the Proprietor, Te Aute Trust Board.

However, as the Foundation trustees had been acting in a voluntary capacity for three years they decided to take some time out, and to step back from the day to day oversight of the school. Alyson Bullock continued in her role with the hostel for a time. To allow them to step back a paid school principal would have to be appointed.

Mrs. Kuni Jenkins then volunteered to take leave from AucklandUniversity and to act as principal until a permanent principal could be appointed. As the Ministry of Education was paying a full operating grant, and school salaries, Hukarere was able to pay Mrs Jenkins to take that role. She acted as principal for about six months until a permanent principal, Mr Kere Mihaere, was appointed.

The financial situation stabilized after integration but the Hukarere Foundation continued to play a role in raising funds, particularly for the hostel which suffered some financial difficulty for a few months. With the eventual appointment of a permanent principal later in 1995 the school and hostel settled down and set a path to expand and develop.

I continued on the Board of Trustees until 2000. Awhina Waaka and Alyson Bullock remained closely involved.

Looking Back

It has been my experience that there will always be opposition to community projects and the more ambitious and more worthy the project the greater the opposition. The reopening of Hukarere was a project undertaken against the odds and against the entrenched opposition of a majority of her owners, the board members of Te Aute Trust Board.

The Trust Board was intent on closing Hukarere in order to save Te Aute by transferring the girls to Te Aute, thereby increasing the roll. Many on the Te Aute College campus were also antagonistic as they thought that the survival of Te Aute depended on its becoming co-educational and to achieve that they too needed Hukarere to be closed. They were wrong, for the survival of Te Aute depended on much improved school and hostel management, on improved school and classroom leadership, on improved teaching and learning, on changing an outdated model and mindset to suit modern circumstances, and on ridding the school of bullying and intimidation in the hostel.

One of the major obstacles was the lack of funding and on the day Hukarere was reopened and rededicated on 6th February 1993 she was already $36,000 in debt. She survived on prayer, koha and hard work for the two years and four months of the establishment phase.

The seemingly insurmountable odds and the opposition were overcome through a shared vision, shared faith and shared commitment across the whole of the Hukarere community represented by Te Whanau O Hukarere Inc. That vision was also shared by three bishops, by major funders, by key personnel in the Ministry of Education, and by the descendants of the Williams churchmen and women who had founded Hukarere and Te Aute in the 19th century. The vision seemed to be infectious and as the project gained momentum the City of Napier got behind it and help was always there for the asking. The local Taiwhenua tribal organisation also committed itself to the vision.

Such was the power of a shared vision, shared faith and shared commitment.


On 27th April 2003 Hukarere moved to a new site in the Esk Valley just north of Napier. The site on Napier Hill was sold and some of the proceeds used to buy the new site. This was necessary to overcome or avoid the problem of substandard buildings at the original Hukerere site, and the lack of capital needed to upgrade them to Ministry of Education standards under the Integration Agreement.

At her new site the roll rose to over 100 pupils and in 2013 is about 80.

As this is published in 2013, more than twenty years after the revival of Hukarere, she survives and flourishes.


The Speech is included as a record of the occasion




Apologies & Messages from former Principals.

  • Ruth Flashoff
  • Lucy Hogg
  • Isla Hunter

Apologies from Others

  • Principal of Napier GHS,
  • Mrs Te Whetumarama Tirikatene-Sullivan MP for Southern Maori,
  • Mr Geoff Braybrooke, MP for Napier,
  • Mr Michael Laws MP for HawkesBay,
  • Rt Rev Murray Mills, Bishop of Waiapu,
  • Mr Alan Dick, Mayor of Napier,
  • Mr Bill Richardson, Ministry of Education, Wellington,
  • Mr Ted Ercolano, Ministry of Education, Napier

Treaty of Waitangi

On this day in 1990 at Waitangi, the Rt Rev Bishop Te Whakahuihui Vercoe, in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, spoke of how we Maori have been “marginalised” in our own land, despite the Treaty of Waitangi. Queen Elizabeth, the descendant of Queen Victoria, in whose name the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, spoke too of the Treaty of Waitangi and of how it had been “imperfectly observed”.

Marginalised and imperfectly observed.

History of Hukarere

There are parallels between the history of the Treaty of Waitangi and the history of Hukarere. It would seem to many observers that the vision of the founders of Hukarere has also been imperfectly observed by their heirs and successors. Throughout its history Hukarere has been subjected to the ravages of both fire and earthquake, and has recovered from both. But for the last thirty or so years Hukarere has led a precarious existence due to the ravages of financial uncertainty, leading to its closure as a school in 1969, and to its closure as a hostel in 1991.There are many who were certain that Hukarere would or should die.

I know that a great many Hukarere Old Girls also feel deeply that, like the Treaty, the education of young Maori women has been marginalised in favour of young Maori men. Let us pray on this auspicious day and in this celebratory year, that the doubts about the viability of Hukarere, and that the fears of the Old Girls that Hukarere would be lost, are finally laid to rest. For this is the International Year of Indigenous Peoples, and this is the year in which we celebrate the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in Aotearoa/New Zealand; and on this Waitangi Day in 1993 we reopen and re-dedicate Hukarere as a full school and boarding establishment.

That this has come about is due almost entirely to a dream nurtured and borne forward in the hearts of Hukarere Old Girls for the last 23 years, and in their hearts those Old Girls never once gave up hope. I would like to pay tribute to them all, and to those many Old Girls who for 22 of those 23 years kept Hukarere alive as a boarding hostel for young Maori women, although they attended NapierGirlsHigh School.

In particular I pay tribute to a small group we know affectionately as Ngaa Ahi Kaa; those who kept the fires burning and who kept Hukarere warm during its year in complete recess in 1992. [The first and only year that Hukarere has not existed either as school or a hostel]. Mrs Irihapeti Te Moana (Betty) Prangnell and twelve of her charges stayed at Hukarere on a private basis during 1992 and it is due to them that Hukarere did not grow cold in that dark year. Most of Ngaa Ahi Kaa are still here with us today. Tena koutou wahine ma, kotiro ma. Nga mihi nui ki a koutou katoa, ka nui te aroha ki a koutou.

Betty Prangnell who has been Matron since 1982 has decided that Hukarere is now in good hands, and that she would like to retire and return to her whanau in Christchurch. After all, she just came up here for a holiday in 1982, and was made Matron before she could escape back to Christchurch.

Betty, from all of us of Te Whanau O Hukarere, students, parents, staff, Old Girls and Friends; thank you for your devoted service to Hukarere. We wish you every happiness in your retirement. Kia ora koe, Irihapeti, ma te Atua koe e manaaki, e tiaki.

I pay tribute and give thanks to the Bishops who gave their unstinting support to get Hukarere reopened. The Rt Rev Te Whakahuihui Vercoe, Bishop of Aotearoa, The Rt Rev Paraone Turei Bishop of Tai Rawhiti/Aotearoa and The Rt Rev Murray Mills Bishop of Waiapu. Kia ora koutou. Special thanks are due to Archdeacon Joe Akuhata-Brown who is also Chaplain to Hukarere.

I would like to thank all of my fellow members of Te Whanau O Hukarere who grasped an opportunity, and with faith and determination, brought about this reopening and rededication. In particular our Patron of Te Whanau O Hukarere, Aunty Ruruhira Robin, for her faith in us and in the righteousness of our cause. Kia ora koe, e kui. We thank also the Napier City Council for its support, and His Worship the Mayor, Mr Alan Dick, who has agreed to become Patron of Hukarere.

We should not forget the Trustees of Te Aute Trust Board whose members have leased Hukarere to Te Whanau O Hukarere.

And those at the Ministry of Education who took less than a month over the Christmas and New Year period to process our application and to grant us provisional registration as a Private School. We thank you sincerely and we look forward to a long and close relationship with the Ministry. We look forward also to being granted integrated status and full funding in due course, but not too far away, we hope.

And we give thanks to God whose plan it was and whose oversight guided our every effort to bring about this reopening.

Hukarere Guarantee

On this day in 1840 a Treaty was signed which gave a pledge or guarantee to the Chiefs and Tribes of Aotearoa/New Zealand. On this day in 1993 we of Te Whanau O Hukarere give this pledge known as the Hukarere Guarantee

  • WE GUARANTEE that, given at least three years to work with a young woman at Hukarere, she will become a confident, motivated, self-disciplined and responsible citizen capable of providing leadership and moral guidance in her community:
  • WE GUARANTEE that together we will have found her personal strengths, skills, abilities and talents whether they be academic, cultural, artistic or sporting; and that we will have fostered and developed those attributes to enable her to have access to a successful and rewarding future:
  • WE GUARANTEE that she will go out from Hukarere into a strong and supportive network based on her Iwi, the Church, the Hukarere Old Girls Association, and the network of Friends of Hukarere


To deliver on this guarantee we have a highly qualified and committed teaching staff led by Mrs Awhina Waaka, who are introducing many innovative schemes designed to achieve the best possible outcomes for each student.

Throughout this week they have been helped by many enthusiastic and highly skilled volunteers to assess and evaluate the strengths of each student, and we sincerely thank you all. We have not yet appointed a Matron to replace Mrs Prangnell, and we are taking our time and being very cautious in order to make sure that we find the very best person for this crucial appointment. In the meantime Mrs Prangnell is helping the Whare staff to get things settled down, and has agreed to stay just a little longer to help out. Thank you again Betty.

Our acting Matron is Mrs Alyson Bullock who has taken annual leave from her own job to hold the line until we find a new Matron. Alyson has been a key member of Te Whanau O Hukarere and has contributed much to the reopening.

Our adminstrator is Mr Des Lanigan who has worked tirelessly and has performed many small miracles to help Hukarere get started just ten days after receiving approval to operate as a school.

There are many others who have contributed, and who continue to do good works, and we thank you all.

Nga Tauira

The most important people here at Hukarere are the students. I would like you all to know that we have very high expectations for all of you, and we have enormous faith in your abilities. Women can do anything – and you can do anything you want in life. You just need to make up your minds to do it, and get on with it. We are here to help you do just that. Almost anyone can get a School Certificate, and almost anyone can get a University Degree. It’s only impossible if you think it’s impossible.

But most of all we want you to enjoy your life here; both in the Whare and in the Kura. Learning can be fun; living at Hukarere ought to be fun. Let’s see if together we can make it fun. I would like you to know that all of us in Te Whanau O Hukarere are here in your interests, and that we are here to serve you. Let’s achieve great things together. No reira kotiro ma, kia kaha, kia manawanui, kia u ki te pai.

New Students

There are still a few places open at Hukarere for both boarders and day pupils, and you are welcome to send new students to us even though the Term has started. I am sure that there are many Old Girls who would like their daughters and grand-daughters to come to Hukarere, but who did not know that Hukarere was to reopen. Well, we didn’t really know either, until just ten days before we opened. We will be getting in touch with as many Old Girls as we can find over the next year.

Old Girls Reunion

There will be an Old Girls Reunion in 1995 to celebrate the 120th Anniversary, and before June this year we plan to hold a reunion planning hui for all those Old Girls who want to be part of the Reunion Planning Team.

Finally, Te Whanau O Hukarere asks all of you here today to spread the word. We would like all Old Girls to send us their contact addresses and phone numbers. We need to find them so that we may give Hukarere back to them.

On behalf of Te Whanau O Hukarere, thank you all for joining us today in this celebration. I am sure that you will all join with me in wishing Hukarere every success, and in giving all our aroha to these students of the new Hukarere, and to those many thousands to come in the years ahead. To end this korero, I would like to leave you with the Hukarere Guarantee.


  • WE GUARANTEE that, given at least three years to work with a young  woman at Hukarere, she will become a confident, motivated, self-disciplined and responsible citizen capable of providing leadership and moral guidance in her community:
  • WE GUARANTEE that together we will have found her personal strengths, skills, abilities and talents whether they be academic, cultural, artistic or sporting; and that we will have fostered and developed those attributes to enable her to have access to a successful and rewarding future:
  • WE GUARANTEE that she will go out from Hukarere into a strong and supportive network based on her Iwi, the Church, the Hukarere Old Girls Association, and the network of Friends of Hukarere.

No reira e koro ma, e kui ma, kotiro ma, rau rangatira ma,kua mutu aku korero mo tenei wa, tena koutou, tena koutou,tena ra tatou katoa.

Kei raro.