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No. 53 (December 1965)
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Picture icon

photo by Daily Post, Rotorua
At the Study Centre in the St. Faith's parish hall at Ohinemutu, students do their homework in quiet study conditions away from home distractions. Each session is attended by a parent who looks after the arrangements in the hall, and by a qualified person who can assist in his or her own particular field.

Study Centres in Rotorua

In May 1965 a Study Centre opened at Ohinemutu, Rotorua, for secondary school children of the Ohinemutu, Koutu and Tarewa Road areas. There are three secondary schools represented on the roll of 95 students. The head teachers of these schools all supported the establishment of a Study Centre which would provide quiet study conditions away from the distractions of the home.

Parents' Desire to Help their Children

To trace the development of the Study Centre is to study the devotion of a few parents who were ready to initiate a contribution which would improve the school performance of the local Maori children. The idea evolved through the concern of Mrs M. Te Hau. The notion of extra classes and individual tuition in bothersome subjects became secondary to the advice of the head teachers, who declared that a Homework Centre would meet an outstanding need.

A meeting of 30 parents and interested people decided that a Study Centre would be worthwhile. Te Ao Marama, the St. Faith's parish hall, was offered and accepted for the use of the Centre four evenings a week, Monday through to Thursday, between 5.30 and 7.30 p.m.

The hall was a happy choice as the large tables provided for workable groups of students. The early rolls were over the 70 mark. Each session is attended by a qualified person who puts his knowledge at the disposal of the students. A parent also attends to the arrangements in the hall and takes the roll.

The Centre immediately aroused local interest—not because it was some grand ex-

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periment, but rather because it was a positive step which reflected the thought and care of the Maori parent. The press printed and the radio broadcast the news of this project. Television filmed the students at work.

Another Centre at Whakarewarewa

The news spread and the Whakarewarewa, Ngapuna and Waipa parents recognised that a similar Centre would be helpful in their area. They met on a Sunday and their Centre opened the next day with an attendance of 60 students. The Whakarewarewa Primary School was the venue and the records show a complete roll of 85 students. The organisers have divided the Centre into three divisions: the intermediate schoolchildren who arrived unexpectedly, but fired with enthusiasm; the third and fourth forms; and the fifths and sixths.

Now that a few months' experience has been gained it is possible to assess the need for, and the value of the Study Centre. Supervised study conditions give the students an opportunity to get away from home distractions. It provides a quieter place. The demands of household chores are reduced.

If those who attend are being provided with better study conditions, then the effects should be reflected in the students' school work. We have reports of a better attitude and more settled school work among those who attend.

Students Respond to Parents' Interest

An extremely significant result was that in several instances a student responded to the presence of his parent at the Centre as a parent-supervisor by showing an increased interest in his school work. Many parents do not come up to the expectations of their children because they are unable to assist with homework. What actually is a lack of confidence is interpreted by the child as a lack of interest. Consequently the child's interest in school wanes. By an occasional attendance at the Study Centre the parent reassures his child of his practical interest.

The students themselves are aware of the benefits they derive from attending the study sessions. The qualified supervisors are prepared to assist in their own particular field and over the week a good coverage of school subjects is obtained. The students also find assistance from amongst themselves by discussing their work.

One cannot overlook the social atmosphere inherent in these study sessions. The students obviously enjoy sitting down together to do their homework.

Although the rolls of both Centres are large, attendances are not always of the same order. Research reveals that distance often influences attendance. It has been particularly apparent at Ohinemutu that Koutu children have difficulty in getting to the Centre. The fall-off in attendance of Koutu students is disconcerting.

The initial interest shown suggests that if transport were to be provided a high rate of attendance would be maintained. Hired transport (preferably a bus) could service both Study Centres, and the full benefits of the facilities provided could be utilised. Finance, of course, is the problem.

Homework study centres where children can work in the evenings are now operating in a number of Maori communities. Study centres with small libraries attached to them are functioning at Orakei, Auckland, and at Putiki, Wanganui, and a study centre based on those at Rotorua has recently been established at Kawerau.

Mr S. M. Mead, well known as an educationist and a writer of books on Maori culture, recently left New Zealand to spend three years in the United States. He is to study primitive art for a doctorate of philosophy at the University of South Illinois.

Mrs Mead and their two daughters accompanied him.

A member of Ngati Manawa of Murupara and of Ngati Pahipoto and Ngati Rangiheua of Te Teko, Mr Mead was formerly headmaster at Whatawhata School. Later he became a lecturer in Maori studies in Auckland University's anthropology department.

Pukekohe's Maori welfare officer, Miss Ngahinaturae (Ina) Te Uira, recently spent three months in the United States studying social welfare under a grant given by the American government.

Ina Te Uira comes from the small community of Taharoa, south of Kawhia Harbour. She went to Queen Victoria School, and joined the Maori Affairs Department in 1951. Before going to Pukekohe she spent several years as a welfare officer in Te Kuiti, and also graduated with a diploma of social science at Victoria University.