WHAT DO BOARD ROOMS, CORPORATE OFFICES & PARLIAMENT CHAMBERS
HAVE IN COMMON?
Well according to Hato Paora College Principal, Tihirau Shepherd,
these are all future places of work for his graduates. Because
as far as he is concerned, his school’s number 1 priority
is to groom students for leadership roles in these arenas that
he calls` the new ‘battle fields’ of Māori development.
"The battles for Māori development and success will
no longer be fought in the scrub, gorse, railways or freezing
works. The battles for Māori development and success will
be fought in the board rooms, corporate offices and parliament
But don’t think Shepherd is turning his back on his ‘brown’
collar working class roots. Hailing from Te Whanau-a-Apanui,
his whanau in Te Kaha worked hard to send him and his brother
to Hato Petera. Yet it is his upbringing amongst his iwi that
drives Shepherd to demand so much of students.
“We have Treaty settlements, and huge assets coming back
into the hands of our people.
It’s critical that we equip our kids with the right skills
and knowledge. Once upon a time we were the best workers in
the fish factories. Now we need be the best owners of fish factories!”
It’s hard not to be impressed by Shepherd when you speak
with him. He is constantly thinking out loud about politics,
both national and iwi, and how it affects his vision for his
school and pupils.
“We need to take an interest in how the political environment
affects us in doing our job. Hato Paora must deliver our kids
a solid education that is embedded in tikanga and wairua.
Education in our schools makes a world of difference for rangatahi
and have seen the impact time and time again.”
Shepherd attended Hato Petera at the same time as the current
CE of Te Ohu Kaimoana, Peter Douglas. Douglas remembers a
committed student who wasn't afraid to give anything a go.
And words like commitment and passion are regularly used by
parents and staff use to describe Shepherd.
“Pa Tihirau is 200% committed to making sure our boys
do their best,” says Deputy Principal, Irene Pewhairangi.
“He gives his all and our results show it’s paying
Since he’s been in the driving seat at Hato Paora, the
profile has lifted. The school’s academic results are
top notch; you regularly see it on TV for positive reasons;
and Hato Paora is shy in putting up its hand to manage national
events. The school ran the Nga Manu Korero Nationals in Palmerston
North in 2003 and is doing it again in 2004.
Moreover, Hato Paora is no longer a place of last resort, but
a serious option for Māori parents alongside Wanganui Collegiate
and Palmerston North Boys High School. This is most evident
in the fact that the school is now able to retain top students
who are targeted with better opportunities elsewhere. Whitiaua
Black, head boy, is the Senior Nga Manu Korero champion and
is a sports representative in 5 national teams. He was offered
a full scholarship to attend a top boys school but turned it
down because he wanted to stay at Hato Paora – his kura.
Whitiaua’s whanau swear by the school and the role the
Principal has had in raising its profile.
“He rangatira a Tihirau, na te mea, ko tana mahi, he raranga,
he arahi i te tira tangata”, says Professor Tai Black,
Whitiaua’s father and the head of Māori Language at
With parents like Professor Black backing the school, it is
highly likely that Shepherd’s goal to get more Hato Paora
graduates entering the board room and corporate offices will