Ko Tararua te maunga
Ko Wharemauku me Whareroa ngā awa
Ko Ōtāheke te moana
Ko Kāpiti te moutere tapu
Ko Te Rā Waldorf te kura
Te Rāwhiti Kindergarten opened its doors in April 1993 in Pukerua Bay and a second Te Rāwhiti Kindergarten was founded in June 1997 in Pāekakariki. Te Rā Waldorf School was founded in January 1996 in Pāekakariki. In 1998, our current site in Raumati South was purchased and has been developed into the school site over the years. The school is a state integrated primary school with seven classes. There are four licensed and chartered kindergartens; three on the school site at Raumati South and one in Pāekakariki.
We also have six play groups, for children aged 0 – 4, one in Pāekakariki, and five in Raumati South, and a Nursery class in Raumati South for 3 year olds.
Te Rā School is situated on the Kāpiti Coast, which is on the West Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. Kāpiti Island is a bird sanctuary, inhabited by many rare and endangered native bird species and invertebrates. Kāpiti Island is also a marine reserve. It is a 10 minute boat ride from the mainland.
Aerial view of our site:
Raumati South is approximately a 45 minute drive from the capital of New Zealand, Wellington. Te Rā School is about a 45 minute drive from our local Waldorf Upper School, Raphael House in Belmont, Lower Hutt. Te Rā School sits amidst regenerating Kanuka forest on the edge of the Raumati South township which is about a 5 minute drive from Paraparaumu, the nearest shopping centre.
The school site is a flat three acre site, sitting on sand, peat and iron sand. Te Rā Waldorf School and three of the four Te Rāwhiti Kindergartens, a nursery class and a playgroup are situated at this site. The land is surrounded by Kanuka and Manuka forest and has many fruit trees and gardens, with some very large established specimen trees, including silver birches, sycamores, plane trees, rhododendrons and magnolias. There are many native trees on the site and we are in the process of planting a native forest.
Te Rāwhiti Kindergarten in Pāekakariki is a converted home complete with fire place and gardens. At this location we offer a second playgroup. You find us at the northern end of Pāekakariki, very near the entrance to Queen Elizabeth regional park, a 650 hectare coastal park.
Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy
Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) was Austrian by birth. After a technical education, he studied philosophy, literature, medicine and psychology, gaining his doctorate from Rostok University in Germany, with a dissertation on the philosophy of human freedom.
Steiner’s conscious insight into the spiritual nature of the human being and its connection with the spiritual evolution of the universe, led to his founding of the Anthroposophical Society. This name, “anthroposophy”, means the wisdom of humankind. He strove continuously to give renewed impulses into the arts, science, medicine, agriculture, architecture, social, economic and political life. He realised that science, art and religious life needed to be brought together. Each can then enhance the other in human life and the development of culture.
Anthroposophy is not a religion. It is a pathway individuals may set upon consciously to better understand their inner nature and develop courage for and insight into life tasks.
Rudolf Steiner presented the picture of the human being as more than what can be attributed to heredity or environmental influences alone. He put forward the idea for teachers to consider that each human individuality has incarnated into physical being, that each earth life is unique for that individual and contains tasks that are to be met. He suggested that before birth, each individual decided not only the place of birth, but the choice of parents, of cultural and geographic context, and in a sense ‘mapped the journey’. Steiner described stages of the development of self consciousness, and held the view that human evolution and world evolution were intimately united, one with the other. He emphasised how the future evolution of the earth depended on the development of responsible action by individuals working together.
These can be difficult ideas to contemplate. Steiner insisted that nobody should blindly believe anything he said in his lectures. He asked only that people consider the views that he brought openly and test them in the light of their own life experiences.
What is the relationship of Steiner education to Waldorf education?
Steiner education and Waldorf education are one and the same. The first ‘Steiner’ school was created by Dr. Steiner for the children of workers in the ‘Waldorf’ factory in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1919. There are now 874 Steiner Waldorf schools worldwide. Individual schools choose whether or not to incorporate ‘Steiner’ or ‘Waldorf’ in their titles.
How large are the classes?
Class numbers are optimally around 25 children per class. However, it is at the school’s discretion (in consultation with the teacher) to state the size of each class, depending on the needs of a class.
Why does the same teacher stay with a class for seven years?
Young children need stability and security. They need to trust and form a relationship with those who care for and teach them. Only then are they able fully to give themselves to the learning process. If a child has to get to know a new teacher every year that process is being continually interrupted. In the course of a seven year relationship a bond can grow between teacher and pupil that cuts through much unnecessary and time-consuming getting-to-know and trying-out rituals. The teacher soon comes to know a child’s strengths and weaknesses and can therefore give the right assistance and stimulus, as and when it is needed.
A second advantage of having the same class teacher for such an important period in a child’s life, is that much of what is taught draws on knowledge and skills they have developed in previous years. Having the same teacher means that themes can be followed, drawn out and cross referred so that a holistic view of the world is given.
What happens if a child does not get on with the class teacher?
This is a question many prospective parents ask, and yet it is something which very rarely happens. If a teacher knows that a child is only going to be under his or her care for a year, there is a temptation to say: “I’ll put up with it for a year and then it’s someone else’s problem.” In our system that doesn’t work. Problems have to be faced and worked on. Very often, if a child is experiencing difficulties, there is a reason – a family split or other disturbing factor. The close contact which we encourage between school and home means that teachers know and understand what is going on, and with understanding a lot can change.
This is not to say that every problem is the fault of the child. Teachers are constantly encouraged to look at themselves and to develop as human beings. Conflict can be positive if it highlights the need for change in either party.
Do you have computers in the school?
We do not have computers in the school for use by children. We believe that the human relationship between teacher and child is the key to healthy learning. Only another human being can respond to expressed interest, fire with enthusiasm, and lead by example. We also discourage the use of computers at home by our children.
Older pupils in the high school however, not only have access to computers, but are encouraged to use them. Many pupils use the internet to research Main Lesson topics, and several have had success with web page design. Computing is a useful skill, which can be picked up quickly when it is needed. The life skills that we teach here – social, artistic and intellectual – cannot be so easily assimilated and are vital for a fulfilling life.
How much do you expect of parents?
The stronger the child-teacher-parent triangle can be, the better the educational experience will be for the child. If home and school can work together, the foundation will be strong: if they do not work together, the child will be the one who suffers. It is necessary then, that parents familiarise themselves with the aims of Steiner Waldorf education, and agree to support these aims in principle. We run a course of adult information evenings every year, which new parents are expected to attend, and existing parents are encouraged to attend.
The Parents Evening every term is a chance to find out more about our education and to ask questions of teachers, and it is very important that at least one parent attends these events. Beyond that, obviously, the more you are able to do, the more the School, and your child, will benefit. We understand that many parents have full-time jobs, and are unable to commit themselves to a lot of time. If you can manage to be your child’s Parent Liaison for a year, to help out at our Harvest Fair, or to serve on the Board, this would be much appreciated, and would provide an opportunity to become a more visible member of the School community.
What is your philosophy? Is it religious?
Rudolf Steiner lived and worked in a time of great intellectual curiosity in Europe. The First World War had just ended when, in 1919, he was invited to put his educational theories into practice. Across Europe humanitarians struggled to make sense of human nature and behaviour. Many theories about the nature of man and his relationship to society and the universe were debated. (Jung, for example had argued that individuals shared a common memory.) Rudolf Steiner outlined a theory based on the social codes of Christianity – but incorporating the Eastern belief in reincarnation. He called this theory ‘Anthroposophy’. There is an Anthroposophical Society in New Zealand, and several of our parents and teachers are members. As a school however, we regard our child-centred, environmentally aware, socially responsive curriculum as an entirely separate benefit which grew out of Anthroposophical thinking. The school does not teach Anthroposophy, nor prosletyse it in any way. the school does not teach religion, either. All religions are welcome at a Steiner Waldorf school and many world religions are studied at High School as part of the upper school curriculum.
TE RĀ WALDORF SCHOOL DECLARATION AGAINST DISCRIMINATION
Te Rā Waldorf School, on the Kāpiti Coast, welcomes and celebrates the ethnicity and culture of every member of our community – child, parent, whanau, staff member – as enriching our diversity. The Kāpiti Waldorf Trust, Board of Trustees, College of Teachers, Faculty and parent community board this waka which values our diversity and our great potential to contribute to the full embrace of Aotearoa’s bi-cultural status and multi-cultural identity.
Te Rā Waldorf School as a school in Aotearoa New Zealand is unconditionally committed to upholding the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi – The Treaty of Waitangi. Out of this commitment and within the worldwide Waldorf school framework, Te Rā Waldorf School does not support Rudolf Steiner’s statements on race.
Te Rā Waldorf School commits to the ongoing evaluation of current processes, structures and practices within the school to ensure our declaration against discrimination is fully realised. This is a living document, and as such informs the Te Rā Waldorf School Strategic Plan.
“Piki, eke, temutunga he aiō – There are ups and downs, but in the end all is peaceful.”
Waldorf Schools Framework
- Waldorf schools pursue their pedagogical tasks out of the spirit of human rights, thereby contributing to building a society founded upon mutual respect, tolerance and cooperation between all human beings.
- Waldorf schools do not select, stratify or discriminate amongst their pupils and consider all human beings to be free and equal in dignity and rights, independent of ethnicity, nationality or social origin, gender, language, religion, or political convictions.
- The spiritual science of Anthroposophy, upon which Waldorf education is founded, today rejects all forms of racism and nationalism. The Waldorf schools are aware, however, that there are words, ideas and statements in Rudolf Steiner’s complete works which are not in concordance with this fundamental direction, are discriminatory, and rightfully regarded as offensive in this day and age.*
- Racism and discrimination are not tolerated in Waldorf schools or teacher education institutes. The Waldorf school movement explicitly rejects any attempt to misappropriate Waldorf pedagogy or Rudolf Steiner’s work for racist or nationalistic purposes.
- Waldorf schools have been working on the basis of these preceding principles since the first school was founded in 1919. Institutions working out of Waldorf education are today engaged throughout the world, on all continents.
Based on the Stuttgart Declaration by the Association of Waldorf Schools (Bund Der FreienWaldorfschulen), 2007.
Receive the child in reverence, educate him/her in love and let him/her go forth in freedom. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)
College of Teachers of Te Rā Waldorf School and Kāpiti Waldorf Trust, 21 November 2012
* Anthroposophy as spiritual science is not bound to the words of Rudolf Steiner. As is the case with all other sciences, Anthroposophy is constantly ‘becoming’; concepts from 100 years ago may be discarded today as they are held to be no longer true.