A purpose of Māori boarding schools is to produce Māori graduates who think and behave as Māori. In part, this ability to see the world through Māori eyes is achieved through the special character of the schools.
The Māori people of Aotearoa New Zealand have faced physical extinction.
The early journeys of their ancestors around the Pacific Ocean challenged them to adapt to different environmental conditions for their survival. The learning and experience gathered over many generations enabled Māori to adapt to life in Aotearoa when they arrived on these shores. Māori built societies which prospered in good health and enabled the evolution of a sophisticated mātauranga Māori.
From 1769, following the visits of James Cook and others, the survival of Māori as a people became less certain. Despite the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840, their physical survival was threatened. By the mid-1890s, the Māori population had fallen to 42,000 from the estimated 90,000 in 1840. Disappearance was predicted, but the reverse occurred. The Māori population has grown to 600,000 in the 21st century. Physical survival is now assured. Survival as a people is not.
Māori will be surviving when a large and growing number of Māori live according to kaupapa tuku iho (inherited values), and tikanga (ways of expressing these values) that distinguish Māori from others.
Te Aute College was founded in 1854 as a school for Māori boys, and was incorporated in the authority of Te Aute Trust by Act of Parliament in 1862.
At all times the College will operate so as to maintain and preserve its special character. The Proprietors, who are the Trustees of the Te Aute Trust Board, are appointed by Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa on behalf of the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand, and Polynesia.
The special character of Te Aute College is determined by: Our rangatiratanga as a people. As Māori our language and tikanga are vital – they underpin our whole essence as a marae-based learning institution. Our culture permeates Te Aute’s very existence as a college.
Our affiliation with the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia. Within a warm and complementary relationship we are able to promote and practise our Christian faith.
Our 24-hour learning environment. Students are prepared socially, culturally and physically for the world outside school.