3 Mar 2018

A school for teen parents

From This Way Up, 12:05 pm on 3 March 2018

He Huarahi Tamaraki (HHT) is a school for teenage parents set up in Linden, north of Wellington, more than 20 years ago.

Simon Morton spent a morning meeting staff, students, and their children.

He Huarahi Tamaraki was the first teen parent unit set up in New Zealand: today there are 25 around the country, offering education to students who were unable to complete school because of pregnancy or childbirth.

With a current roll of 34, the focus is on smaller class sizes and less homework, and an on-site childcare facility means students can focus on school knowing their children are being cared for just next door.

“We’re a secondary school, we provide an academic education for our students,” Principal Helen Webber says.

“The combination of the childcare and the school – I think that’s the magic.

“Often there are stresses with delivering or finding childcare … and it’s tough organising a child.”

Many of the students have challenging lives; more than half are living independently and there are often difficulties with housing.

The flip side of the challenges and a life that's different to other teenagers is the “joy of having a little person” she says. “That’s what we witness daily – the connectedness of the mums and dads to their children."