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.


Kia Tu, Kia Ora Kia Māori

Kia Tu - Stand with confidence and be

Kia ora - Healthy in mind, body and spirit

Kia Māori - Māori succeeding as Māori




To empower taiohi to ACHIEVE, to CONTRIBUTE and to LEAD

the advancement of Māori.




We will incubate talent in a culture of:

TAI NUI - Purpose - High Expectation

TAI MANAWA - Passion - Inspiration

TAI KAHA - Perspiration - Hard Work, effort, discipline

TAI ARIKI - Achievement - Focus on achieving goals



Kia Tū

Leadership – We aim to grow confidence and competence. To foster a culture of leadership by building on strengths, passions, values and character. 

Excellence and Quality - High achievement is at the core of all Tai Wānanga kaupapa and learning experiences. Our expectation is that every taiohi will succeed.

Āhurutanga - Tai Wānanga will provide a safe and stimulating environment where students can pursue their learning in a purposeful and exciting way.

Innovation – Our taiohi will be encouraged to explore our world, discover their own pathways and innovate solutions.

Kia Ora

Mauri Ora – holistic wellbeing . Tai Wānanga recognises that learning happens best when the whole person is well (healthy) and engaged in body (tinana), mind (hinengaro), and soul (wairua).

Whānau Ora – Tai Wānanga also recognises the importance of relationships particularly whānau support and engagement in the education of our taiohi and its very direct impact on student achievement and happiness.


Kia Māori

Mana Māori - Māori succeeding as Māori . Tai Wānanga will commit to aligning with the aspirations of Māori.

Te Aō Māori - Competence in Te Aō Māori is expected and will be evident inall aspects of Tai Wānanga.




The graduate profile outlines the qualities, skills and characteristics of taiohi after completing at least four years at Tai Wānanga. The development of our students is referenced by the guiding principles of our Vision.

Kia Tū – Confidence and Competence

  • Equipped to contribute and to benefit from a changing society

  • Prepared for working, living and prospering in a high tech society

  • Passionate about learning, excited by discovery and undaunted by change

  • Literate, numerate and a productive user of ICT

  • A reflective and critical thinker with problem-solving skills and strategies

  • A leader who displays tika and pono

  • An effective communicator who is able to create and maintain networks

 Kia Ora – Health and Well-being

  • Caring, community conscious and a good citizen

  • Respectful of oneself, the environment, and the actions and views of others

  • Fit, healthy and happy

  • Self-responsible and self-managing

  • Self-directed learner committed to a path of lifelong learning

  • Displays honesty and humility

Kia Māori – Proud to be Māori

  • Proud of their identity and who they represent

  • Culturally strong and confident to engage in kaupapa Māori

  • Understands the significance of one's whakapapa, heritage and culture

The Graduate Profile drives our behaviours and actions, our policies and practices. This can happen IF...


  • Is holistic, integrated and authentic

  • Builds from the needs, interests and aspirations of each taiohi

  • Is not age or year-level related

  • Is collaborative

  • Is not confined to the physical space of our buildings

  • Uses a range of digital technologies


  • Understand and are committed to the vision

  • Display the same attributes we seek to develop in our taiohi

  • Are team players

  • Are themselves learners

  • Are reflective, and open to new ideas

  • Create networks

  • Have clear roles and responsibilities


  • Operates as one whānau

  • Has policies and practices consistent with the kaupapa

  • Is committed to continuous improvement

  • Makes decisions consistent with our values

  • Is open and transparent

  • Communicates effectively




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


The current board members are:

  • Mana Forbes (Chairperson)

  • David Hood (MA)

  • Rangimarie Parata Takurua (MA)

  • Matt Sword (MA)

  • Laurie Hakiwai (PE)

  • Jim Mathieson (Co)

  • Rachel Wetere (PE)

  • Tahau Williams (Co)

  • Toby Westrupp (Tumuaki)


The board meets every six weeks



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.”