Hato Pāora College, New Zealand’s only Catholic Māori Boys boarding school, celebrated its 75th Jubilee over Labour weekend.
Several hundred old boys, past and present staff, whānau, friends and supporters arrived from all around New Zealand, Australia and beyond to reminisce, reconnect and look to the future of the kura with great hope and vision, reported WelCom, the newspaper of Wellington archdiocese and Palmerston North diocese.
Hato Pāora was founded on a former sheep farm north of Feilding by the Society of Mary in 1947, with a vision to create an environment for boys to grow into young men with strong te reo and tikanga Māori, to promote Catholic and Māori values, to provide a solid education and to encourage achievement and success.
Tumuaki (principal) Dr Nathan Matthews, a student in the 1990s when there were seven priests living on site, said “they did everything. They coached rugby, taught in class, drove the bus,” WelCom reported.
“A highlight for me was regularly being exposed to te reo and tikanga Māori, formally and informally. Above all else, was the camaraderie amongst the students and the development of lifelong friendships – greatly in evidence at this jubilee weekend.”
Though the last priest left Hato Pāora in 1997, Dr Matthews said the school still had an important place today and was unique with all the boys living on site and students attending from all tribal regions throughout the country.
In his homily at the jubilee Mass, Cardinal John Cardinal, Archbishop of Wellington archdiocese and Apostolic Administrator of Palmerston North diocese, said: “We honour those who supported Hato Pāora, who created an environment where boys could grow into young men with strong reo and Tikanga Māori, a profound reverence for life, loyalty to whānau, and a willingness to share.”
He recalled the visit of Pope St John Paul II to New Zealand in 1986 and repeated the Pope’s words to Māori: “As you rightly treasure your culture, let the Gospel of Christ continue to penetrate and permeate it, confirming your sense of identity as a unique part of God’s household.
“It is as Māori that the Lord calls you; it is as Māori that you belong to the Church, the one Body of Christ.”