Wairoa’s Catholic school opens to state school pupils

Wairoa's Catholic school

Over a month after the floods that demolished swathes of the North Island, Wairoa’s Catholic school is home to 80 extra pupils from nearby Nuhaka.

In a state common to many small settlements after Cyclone Gabrielle, the small Nuhaka settlement 30 kilometres north of Wairoa lost essential services and its wastewater and sewage systems were compromised.

Palmerston North diocese general manager Liam Greer said Nuhaka approached St Joseph’s as they needed somewhere for their pupils to go to school. Would St Joseph’s – which already had 80 pupils – be able to double up and help out?

The Ministry of Education wasn’t keen to house the pupils in a ‘non-school’ facility, so accommodating them in another nearby school was important.

St Joseph’s principal Jo Doyle in turn asked Greer if the diocese would agree in principle to the school hosting Nuhaka.

The diocese agreed.

Even making space for the visitors was surprisingly simple.

St Joseph’s “had emptied or planned to empty classrooms for a building project which recently got building consent,” Greer said.

“Serendipitously, this allowed the immediate accommodation required for the Nuhaka pupils, coupled with using the school hall and library and other rooms as/where required.”

Greer described the arrangement as essentially “a school inside a school” – two schools running on one site.

Greer said  Wairoa’s Catholic school will continue to host Nuhaka for this term “initially”, and this will be “reviewed with the Ministry before the commencement of new term”.

Greer added Nuhaka School principal Raelene McFarlene told him she was “overwhelmed with the support offered, the pōwhiri and the way St Josephs has welcomed their community to the campus”.

St Joseph’s has helped the community recovery in Wairoa in several ways, including allowing its ground to be a temporary helicopter landing pad.

St Peter’s Catholic parish in Wairoa is ensuring the “lunch in schools” programme can continue by allowing the use of their hall for this.


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