I am looking forward to the opening of a new Tipene.
It is a kaupapa that a number of Old Boys have been driving since the schools closure, based on the promise that the school would eventually reopen in 2003. A decision was made by the Church and the Trust Board in 2002, that the school would remain closed and that the plan was to build another school somewhere in Auckland called Matariki.
I formed a small committee in 2003 shortly after that announcement and have been - for want of a better word - keeping the kaupapa in the consciousness of the Trust Board since.
We have had many reunions, wānanga, committee meetings, Ministerial interactions, sporting activities, and cultural events to keep the legacy in the minds of the Church and the Trust Board.
The initial thrust was by an ad-hoc committee of Old Boys whom carried the kaupapa up until the formation of the Old Boys Association in 2007. The kaupapa was then picked up by the Association under the banner of Te Rauhitanga o Te Mano o Tipene - St Stephens School Old Boys Association.
After many years of meeting with the Trust Board and advocating for the kura to be reopened, we subsequently learnt the Trust Board had their own ideas about how they would support young rangatahi into the field of education: this did not include the reopening of Tipene.
Our prime mission however, has been to get the school reopened on the Bombay site in some form. This is what has come out of surveys we have run amongst the Old Boys and their whanau.
Recently we got to a stage whereby the Trust Board have said they will support the reopening of Tipene, and at the Bombay site.
In January of this year, out of pure frustration, I put a stake in the ground and announced the Old Boys Association would reopen a school at the beginning of 2020. If nothing else, the announcement rattled some cages, which increased our engagement with the Trust Board.
We decided a Reopening Committee (Kahui Whakahaere) should be set up, to take the pressure off the Old Boys Association. We also felt we needed to have some guidance in the form of a Kahui Rangatira to umbrella us. These were duly formed and for the initial meetings, a committee of five strategised a way forward. We then co-opted the remainder of the Old Boys Committee, and they have been paving the path ahead.
Part of the frustration over many years has been the mixed messages received by the Old Boys Association from the Trust Board. This hasn’t helped when - as the Chair and point of contact - I would hear things second hand from Old Boys asking me what is happening with the school, when they had heard this or that.
We have now begun touring New Zealand with Tipene’s new education model, led by Nathan Durie. We have had warm responses at all our hui.
We have been to the Eastern Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Tamaki Makaurau and will be in Gisborne on 15 December.
Next year we will visit Te Tai Tokerau, Tuwharetoa and the Western Bay of Plenty/Hauraki. These were the traditional areas that boys were drawn.
The Reopening Committee, I feel, has acted in the best interests of the Old Boys over the past 18 years, to realise this moemoea.
It has been a bit of a mission, but I have always had in the back of my mind, the following: