By: Laurel Stowell

The purchase of the former Turakina Māori Girls’ College offers endless possibilities and is really exciting for Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa, tumu whakarae Pahia Turia says.

The keys were handed over to the Rangitikei iwi in a ceremony filmed by Māori TV on March 16. About 40 people were there for the occasion. Settlement day is April 6, and there will be a formal opening in May.

Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa intend to move their health and social services entity, Te Kotuku Hauora, and their tribal headquarters, to the former school.

It’s a big place – more than 5ha of land, some of it bare, with houses, classrooms, a boarding hostel, a church and sports facilities catering for 130 students. There will be room for other users, Mr Turia said.

Tertiary education providers, industry training organisations and trade training organisations have expressed an interest in sharing it.

“We have got to find something that will contribute to our strategic direction. We are really keen to look at something that’s going to grow ourselves, as well as wider Marton and the Rangitikei area,” he said.

Some fitting out will be done before the iwi’s two entities move in. Consideration will be given to the needs of other users when space is allocated.

The college was established as a boarding school for Māori girls in 1905, and moved to Marton in 1927. It was closed, amid protest, in January 2016. By that time its roll had dropped to 47.

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