Topic: Tauranga Waldorf School: Kōkiri

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Kōkiri (Meaning in Māori: empowerment through knowledge and education), is the name of the building purchased by the Tauranga Waldorf School in 2008 and relocated to the school grounds in Welcome Bay, Tauranga. The building, parts of which date from 1886, has been extensively refurbished and reopened in 2011.

A second school in early Tauranga was built at the Harington Street and Cameron Road corner by 1886. By 1896 the number 1 and 2 schoolsThe school being moved by bullocks in 1904 amalgamated and in 1898 the building was moved to the main school site at 'Quarter Acres' which was bounded by St. John's Street, Tenth Avenue and Edgecumbe Road. In 1904 the building was moved again to 'a central site where Tauranga Primary School is today at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Cameron Road' ... 'In the days of these remarkable removals, Cameron Road was shell-paved and hilly. Bullock teams took weeks to move the tall buildings intact on huge drays with wooden wheels and axles' ... 'The school building finally located at Fifth Avenue was immensely high-gabled and originally a rectangular structure to which an identical parallel wing was added then a third wing' (Bellamy, 1982, p. 135).

'The building was demolished in 1978, the timber and joinery being given to Tauranga District Museum' (Bellamy, 1982, pp. 136-137). This timber and joinery was then used to construct several building's including a replica of a traditional Māori Marae. 'In this area of the village is situated the Tauranga Whanau Kōkiri, a training scheme teaching young people traditional Māori crafts. The work scheme is administered by the Tauranga Māori Women’s Welfare League' (Standish, 1992, p. 73). The buildings included the:

A pen sketch by Anne Hyde of the Tauranga Primary School

1. Māori Meeting House (Wharenui) which was named 'Nga Tapiri o Rehua' (The Gathering Together with Jupiter). 'The meeting house contains many treasures of local Māori heritage' (Standish, 1992, p. 5). This building was bought by a private family, demolished and moved to the Kaimais to be rebuilt as part of a private residence (H. Martin, personal communication, June 15, 2008).

2. Māori Weavers Training Scheme Whare. 'The Weavers' building (No. 76) has been erected by the Whanau Kōkiri and is designed to incorporate a number of traditional Māori features' (Standish, 1992, p. 73). This whare was used to teach girls the traditional art of weaving. The building was sold to hapu at Thames and transported there (H. Martin, personal communication, June 15, 2008).

 3. Māori Carvers Training Scheme Whare. 'The Carvers' building (No. 77) is constructed of materials salvaged from the older Tauranga Primary School sited on Cameron Road' (Standish, 1992, p. 73). This whare was used to teach boys traditional Māori carving. Often the boys would sing waiata for visitors to the carving centre (H. Martin, personal communication, June 15, 2008).

The building purchased by the Tauranga Rudolf Steiner School in 2008 is the whare used to house the Māori Carvers Training Scheme. It was known as the Kōkiri Carving Centre and was run by Hazel Martin who worked with troubled youth, teaching the boys carving from 1981 to 1998.

The land at the Tauranga Rudolf Steiner School site was blessed on 15 June 2008. In order to move the whare the very steep gabled roof had to be detached. The whare was moved onto the Tauranga Rudolf Steiner School site on Wednesday 12 November 2008. Staff and parents will dedicate many voluntary hours of labour to restore the whare, known as Kōkiri, which will be used by the school as:

Kōkiri on site at the Tauranga Historic Village

  • a school hall
  • an extra teaching space
  • a space for gymnastics
  • a performance area
  • a space for music lessons

Kōkiri will be well cared for and loved by the school community who are its present guardians. Although Kōkiri itself was created in 1978, the solid rimu building materials may date from 122 years ago (as at 2008).

- Researched and written by Debbie McCauley (June 2008). I have a personal connection with this building as my 21st key was carved at the carving centre in 1993.


Bellamy, A. (Ed.). (1982). Tauranga 1882-1982. Tauranga, New Zealand: Tauranga City Council.

Standish, R. (1992). Swampland to Historic Village: An impossible dream come true. Tauranga, New Zealand: Historic Village.

Tauranga Primary Centennial Committee. (2004). Moving years 1904-2004. Tauranga, New Zealand: Author (p. 12).

Wyatt, P. (Ed.). (1998). Tauranga Historic Village Museum: Souvenir book. Tauranga, New Zealand: Compass Community Trust.

Graham Macgregor (Baycourt Custodian) - personal communication (Historic Village volunteer in the 1980's, staff 1993-1999), June 12, 2008.

Hazel Martin (co-ordinator of Kōkiri Carving Centre 1978-2003) - personal communication, June 15, 2008.

Janie Hyde (Facility Manager: Tauranga Historic Village), personal communication, June 11, 2008.

Peter Arts (affiliations to Kōkiri Carving Centre and former parent of the school), personal communication, June 12, 2008.

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Tauranga Waldorf School: Kōkiri

City:Tauranga, New Zealand