The proposal for a Teen Parent Unit (TPU) has been on the school’s agenda for about eight years but it was three years ago the Ministry of Education (MOE) approved the concept in principle.

“The idea had been put forward before my arrival at the school in 2010,” Whakatane High School principal Chris Nielsen said. “I think it was perhaps put on the back-burner for a while but, following the closure of Kawerau College at the end of 2012, the alternative education [AE] contracts were re-negotiated and the idea of a Whakatane TPU resurfaced.”

Mr Nielsen said he and the school board had always wanted the unit to be homed within the NASH campus.

“While we [WHS] will be responsible for the education of the teen mothers, the team at NASH will be looking after everything else.”

He described the unit as exciting for the school and for the town.

“For these young mothers to be able to continue their education while also being supported by Ngati Awa is important. We believe the collaboration is positive for everyone.”

NASH’s Enid Ratahi-Pryor said a lot of effort had gone in to making the TPU vision a reality.

“There’s been a lot of advocating on our behalf to the MOE as it was up to the Ministry to bring the concept to fruition,” Mrs Ratahi-Pryor said.

“We will have to have strong collaboration and strong relationships with the school to ensure the success of the unit but I am really excited about establishing those bonds

“The unit is a great example of iwi working other organisations within the community to bring about sustainable benefit for all.”

She said students would benefit from the wrap-around services offered at NASH, from the nurses, to the social workers and the early childhood facility.

“We will have a one to 10 ratio of teachers to students.”

Mr Nielsen said the lead TPU position was currently being advertised. Whakatane High had also appointed board member Mawera Karetai to be the liaison person between the school and the organisation.

The TPU building is currently under construction and will be handed over to the school in November.

Doors will open at the beginning of the 2017 school year.

Source: The Daily Post


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