THERE IS SOMETHING DISTINCT AND SPECIAL ABOUT ST JOSEPH’S
Māori GIRLS’ COLLEGE AND ITS PUPILS.
Some would say it’s the girls’ dress standards or
behavior when they are out in public – where every single
girl has their hair either shoulder length or tied up and is
dressed smartly in their number ones (no exceptions).
Others say it’s their singing – referring
to both their nationally renown choir and their illustrious
ex-pupils, like Hinewehi Mohi, Moana Maniapoto and Whirimako
Black, who have made a huge impact on NZ’s music scene.
Others say its their stunning academic success – where
for more than a decade, St Joseph’s has not only produced
the best and most consistent academic results in the Paerangi
schools, but also competes locally with private rich schools
like Iona and Woodford.
But whatever epitomises St Joseph’s and its girls, everyone
agrees that a single person has maintained St Joseph’s
reputation over the years as a lead school for Māori girls
-Principal, Georgina Kingi.
Geoirgina is strictly “old school” or a traditionalist.
But as her ex-pupils will vouch, she’s traditionalist
in the best sense of the word.
She is not phased by new technology – which might explain
why St Joseph’s doesn't have a school
website. She prefers instilling within kids the basics. Nor
is she keen on educational fads or reforms – she prefers
mostly external exams to the new NCEA system. She believes
in the “best of both worlds” rather than the kaupapa
Māori theory– her kids must achieve both in the
‘p_keha’ scholastic arena AND need grounding in
tikanga Māori. She doesn’t believe only Māori
staff can work with Māori. At the end of the day she wants
the best staff for her kids – and if they happen to
be Māori that’s a bonus!
She does recognise that the world is a global marketplace
and NZ only makes up two small islands in that market. But
while the world may have changed, her vision for the school
and her girls has remained the same.
“I believe in our girls and see it as our job to give
them the confidence and skills to foot it in the wider world.”
One ex pupil who does just that is high flying business consultant,
Taria Tahana. With a degree in business management from Waikato
University, Taria knows something about effective organisations
and believes the leadership Georgina provides is critical
to the school’s success.
“Georgina is legendary. She believes every student is
capable of much more than they themselves think is possible.
This can be tough on girls who aren’t used to being
pushed. But Georgina is unrelenting in the pursuit of the
possible. She doesn’t make exceptions.”
And her approach is admired by her students’ parents.
Business consultant Richard Jefferies has a daughter enrolled
in the third form. When he complained that his girl wasn’t
being challenged enough academically, Georgina immediately implemented
curriculum and homework changes for the pupil.
“I really appreciate having a Principal that not only
has high expectations of my girl, but will do what is best for
It would be a mistake however to think St Joseph’s is
full of middle class Māori families who want their girls
to be business consultants and lawyers – not that there
is anything wrong with that.
“We are not a school of rich Māori kids,” says
Georgina staunchly, “and if we became that, I would resign!”
Georgina is clear that her school is for those in need but have
real potential. “The Sisters of Our Lady of the Mission
established St Joseph’s as a school to help Māori
families. We are still here to do that job.”
Georgina’s work with the Maori community was recognised
in the January 2004 Honors List when she was awarded a QSO (Companion
of the Queens Order for Public Services).