Mooar to Say

An occasional column with Aaron Mooar, Station Manager of Raglan Community Radio and the host of the Morning Show.

There has been a really positive news story coming out of Patea over the last two years that started with new principal Nicola Ngarewa being appointed after a period of crisis at the school.

She has modernised the way the school runs, doing away with bell times and offering a kind of flexitime for older students so that they could fit jobs in around their studies. These and many other changes have turned around student performance at the school with an improvement in academic results and an increase in attendance and students numbers.

Because our own Area School Board of Trustees has been asking for community feedback on their 2018 charter recently I thought it was a good time to interview Patea’s principal about these changes

Nicola Ngarewa who was the Taranaki Daily Times person of the year for 2016 didn’t beat about the bush, she was very up front about the fact that the current school model originated 100 years ago and isn’t preparing children for the modern world. It needs a good shake up she said.

Patea Area School encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning, they have done away with timetables and work areas are designed for collaboration. Students plan their own curricula based on their own interests and ambitions. These are experiences that will provide skills essential for a rapidly changing work environment – and very different to the traditional experience of sitting in a classroom and having your day directed by the school bell.

They teach Mandarin at Patea Area School now and have sent groups of students to work at an orphanage in Fiji and on trips to Silicon Valley and Stanford University. Every second Friday they go out into the community doing things like dive courses or hunting and gathering.

Patea students also got involved in the South Taranaki Reef Life Project,  a community project documenting sea life on a reef 11 km off the coast of Patea. This is part of the ocean that the head of TTR, Alan Eggers, famously described as a virtual desert. The project has proven otherwise and the students have been full involved. Their teachers say they can’t get enough of it and are thirsty for more knowledge and the chance to continue their involvement. Our own Phil McCabe (’til recently the Chair of KASM) said that he can’t speak highly enough of the contribution the reef project made in the case against TTR.

There’s often criticism directed at younger generations for their poor turn out when it comes to elections but what’s missed is that they’re often active in different ways. Patea Area School has proven that even before they’re old enough to vote they’re just itching to get out of the classroom and be involved in making a real difference in the world.

The interview with Nicola Ngarewa can be found by looking up Morning Show interviews on the podcasting page at

Aaron Mooar is Station Manager of Raglan Community Radio and the host of the Morning Show. On air 6 – 10am weekdays on 98.1FM and streaming/podcasting on