Ka tangi te Titi
Ka tangi te Kaka
Ka tangi hoki ahau
Tihei Mauri Ora
I received the very sad news late last Friday of the passing of Tūroa Royal. Tūroa was the Principal of Wellington High School from 1978 to 1986 and he died last Tuesday, 28 November, at the age of 88 in Auckland. He was taken to Raukawa marae in Otaki last Thursday where he lay in state for two nights. On Saturday, he was moved to Hauraki and returned to his ancestral home of Waimangō, on the western shores of the Firth of Thames. A service was held for him on Monday 4 December.
Tūroa committed himself to education and, in particular, Māori education for 50 years. He established the first bilingual (English/Māori) stream in New Zealand in 1982 at Wellington High School and he was involved in the founding of Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua and Te Wananga o Raukawa in Otaki. He was also the founding chair of the World Indigenous Higher Education Consortium.
Tūroa believed strongly that “… serving people, particularly pupils, is the central focus of the school”. He advocated a “guidance-centred approach” to education emphasising the need for “great care, friendship and respect for others, no matter how different”.
When the school celebrated its centennial anniversary in 1986, Tūroa wrote about what he saw as the future of schooling and I have quoted him many times as his words still fit perfectly with what we are trying to achieve now.
“Firstly, if nothing else, pupils should leave the school with a sense of self-worth, a sense of self-esteem, and a sense of high expectations that life has beauty, and of truth. Emerson’s [Ralph Waldo Emerson – American essayist / philosopher / poet – 1803 – 1882] truism is worth quoting:
‘Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
We must carry it with us or we will find it not.’
“Secondly, whatever we teach, pupils should have the ability and skills to relate to others in a cordial, friendly and compassionate relationship.
‘Ko te mea nui – ko te aroha’
‘The most important thing – is love and compassion’
“Thirdly, students should have the widest and happiest experiences in schools so that on leaving, learning is seen as a continuing and enjoyable experience.
“Fourthly, to be able to analyse problems, no matter how complex, so that if career tracks are changing more frequently they are able to make wise choices.
“Fifthly, students should, through school practices be concerned for people and for mother earth. Mother earth is our past and our future.
“Lastly, there is some truth in –
‘That when people live with criticism they learn to condemn;
When they live with hostility they learn to fight;
When people are ridiculed, they learn to feel guilty;
When they live with encouragement, they live with confidence;
When they live with praise, they learn to appreciate;
When they live with fairness, they learn justice;
When they live with love, they learn to love the world.”
Tūroa has been interred in the family urupā at Waimangō next to his parents, his siblings and his tupuna.