Mangakahia Area Schools’ 2023 student leaders (from left): student rangatira Kalani Petersen, sports rangatira Lavinia Waa, academic rangatira Breh Hetaraka, manukura wāhine (head girl) Anahera Kaipo and manukura tāne (head boy) Rangiatea Marsh. Photo / Michael Cunningham
A rural school on the outskirts of Whangārei is doing what it can to boost students by appointing pupils to an executive committee leadership team.
Mangakahia Area School principal Maria Dunn said she wanted to make positive changes in the school, which caters to rangitahi from Years 1 through to 13 and has 90 students currently enrolled.
“I came in last term, and I thought to reset this kura and give our young people hope, belonging and identity, and do [things] with [students], rather than to [them],” she said.
Five students form the executive committee – three are in Year 12 and two are in Year 11. To apply for the role, students had to develop a CV and cover letter and carry out a presentation to students and staff. The group meets fortnightly to discuss issues and ideas within the school.
Dunn said the aim was to create a “real” experience for budding leaders and to demonstrate what was involved.
“If we want leaders and to empower young people … we need to start tapping into these things now for these kids to be courageous.”
The initiative would also hopefully inspire the aspirations of younger students.
“We want to have the babies in Year 1 to be going, ‘One day I’m going to be like her’,” Dunn said.
“How do we say there’s a world out there? This might be the stepping stone [for them] to be innovative and create, and let the world be their oyster.”
Manukura wāhine [head girl] Anahera Kaipo was excited to help the school improve.
Though she felt “lots of pressure”, Kaipo believed she could handle it.
Her heart was “beating so fast” when the leaders were announced at a school assembly last Friday.
“I was so nervous,” she laughed. “It was a bit nerve-racking.”
Manukura tāne [head boy] Rangiatea Marsh was “actually quite surprised” when he was named head boy – but excited.
Marsh said a leadership team in a kura was important because it gave younger students “something to aim for.”
Sports rangatira Lavinia Waa enjoys boxing and netball, but said being in her role is much more than sports.
Her hope is that she and her peers’ roles will “give students a voice.”
The new leadership team is made up of manukura wahine Anahera Kaipo, manukura tāne Rangiatea Marsh, sports rangatira Lavinia Waa, student rangatira Kalani Petersen, and academic rangatira Breh Hetaraka.