In 2010 Tai Wānanga received Ministerial approval to operate as a designated character school pursuant to section 156 of the Education Act. We gained approval to establish two initial sites in Palmerston North (Tai Wānanga Tū Toa 2011) and Hamilton (Tai Wānanga ki Ruakura 2012).

Tai Wānanga is a holistic model which provides an inclusive, interactive and nurturing learning experience to ensure health in body, mind and spirit. At the centre of our learning framework is an Individualised Tailored Learning Plan(ITLP) based on career aspirations and exit strategy, strengths, passions and interests. A co-educational model we cater for Y9 to Y13 students with a capped site roll of 120.


The Tai Wānanga concept, values and its unique approach to learning was originally developed and founded by, and under the auspice of, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. We acknowledge the leadership of Dr. Rongo Wetere and Bentham Ohia who drove our submission to the point of approval.




Tai Wānanga transitioned from an Establishment Board to a Board of Trustees in 2015. The key responsibilities of the board include:

  • Implementation of a teaching and learning framework consistent with the National Education Guidelines and National Administration Guidelines

  • Strategic direction and development of our Tai Wānanga Vision, Mission Statement and Philosophies

  • Establishment of new Tai Wānanga sites

Our constitution defines our board membership as:

  • 3 Minister of Education appointments

  • 2 Te Wānanga o Aotearoa appointments

  • 2 Parent Elect representatives

  • Maximum of 2 co-opt representatives

  • Principal

Please click here to read our alternative constitution.


The current board members are:

  • Laurie Hakiwai (Chairperson)

  • David Hood (Minister Appointment)

  • Rangimarie Parata (Minister Appointment)

  • Iriaka Isaacs (Parent Elected)

  • Taipari Waaka (Parent Elected)

  • Jim Mathieson (Co-opted Member)

  • Toby Westrupp (Tumuaki - Ex-Officio)


The board meets every six weeks














Our leadership model consists of Tumuaki, a Central Service Hub, and Site Leadership Teams. The CSH will provide leadership and support to the sites.


The central services hub will play a vital role in:


  • Leadership and planning

  • Teaching and Learning 

  • Staff induction and development

  • Financial budget, policies and procedures

  • Property regulations and compliance

  • Health & Safety 

  • Requirements for organisational audits

  • Ensuring coherence, coordination, and effective communication and consistency amongst all sites

  • Support guardianship of Tai Wānanga kaupapa



Each Tai Wānanga site has an established Whānau Support Group.


The key role of the Whānau Support Group include is:


  1. To maintain, enhance and advance the “kaupapa” and focus of their respective sites

  2. To provide a forum for the provision of support to site leadership and a mechanism of accountability of site leadership back to its local community;

  3. To provide a forum for parental input and involvement;

  4. To seek out third party funding and sponsorship opportunities to support their local Tai Wānanga site; and

  5. Any other activities that the Whānau Support Group deems necessary.


Executive members are elected every two years.

“Where Passion, Purpose and Perspiration meet.”