This is Te Kura o Torere – the gorgeous little Torere School, which falls within the Opotiki district on East Cape. I discovered it recently during my East Cape travels, 24 kilometres from Opotiki. I had driven through the little settlement of Torere and on, up the hill and there it was, right on the brow. You could hardly miss its magnificent carvings of course. The elaborately carved Whakairo Gateway is a triumph. I wondered at the time, what the school kids must think each day as they pass underneath it on their way to lessons. In the nature of childhood I guess, they possibly take it for granted as just one more thing in their everyday landscape. I wandered into the school grounds (it was a weekend and ‘no one was home) and peeped into one or two of the classrooms – richly decorated places filled with drawing and the colourful trappings of a bilingual environment.
Torere is the home to the Ngai Tai iwi, one of the Bay of Plenty’s smallest – descended from Hoturoa’s daughter, Torere, who came ashore from the Tainui canoe, as it journeyed along the coast. The 2006 census counted just 342 Maori claiming Ngaitai ancestry, 201 of them living in the Auckland area and just 60 in the Bay of Plenty. www.torerekura.schoolzone.net.nz