Auckland’s Pacific community, Tongan Royalty, Members of Parliament and the education sector all celebrated the official opening of PASS in Otahuhu, South Auckland on March 4. The school is the first Pasifika Partnership School in New Zealand with classes beginning on February 4.
PPAT Chair La’auli Savae Michael Jones MNZM, says considering how new the concept is to the community, the interest is strong and growing.
“In many ways it’s driven by the students who are spreading the word among their peers,” he says.
“We’re being contacted by parents and those wanting to enrol every day.”
Students spoke of their school experience during the first few weeks, saying they feel valued and connected, which has given them confidence to focus on pursuing their aspirations.
La’auli read out messages from parents, who expressed gratitude at the positive transformation of their sons and daughters’ behaviour when they’re at home.
Falefatu Enari, PASS Co-Principal along with his wife Parehuia, welcomes the parental feedback, adding that a supportive home environment plays a significant role in their children’s education.
Guest of Honour was Her Royal Highness Princess Siu’ilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili from Tonga, who spoke of her friendship with Michael Jones’ late mother Maina Wearne-Jones and shared their passion for fostering education in the Pacific region.
The opening was attended by the Minister of Education, Hon Hekia Parata, who said the opening of PASS was a significant milestone in the government’s ongoing drive to raise the education achievements for those students who have historically been under-served by the system.
She says Pacific students are over-represented in that category and is confident the board and management team at PASS will play a key role in helping improve the situation.
“Charter schools give parents and students more freedom to choose the type of education that suits their learning needs,” she says.
“And having established and respected community leaders on the board (which includes Emeline Afeaki-Mafile’o and Hamish Crooks with Chair La’auili), in management and in the classrooms can only be beneficial for the students.”
Other Members of Parliament in attendance included sole ACT MP David Seymour, who also spoke, National MP Alfred Ngaro and Labour MP Su’a William Sio.