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11 November 2022

Rakahanga School sees enrolment rise with families returning to island

Tuesday 5 March 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Education, National, Outer Islands

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Rakahanga School sees enrolment rise with families returning to island
Rakahanga School students Rui Taura and Tianini Hagainoa won the heaviest fish aggregate in the school’s fishing competition last month. Maggie Purea-Taripo, principal of the school is at far left. SUPPLIED/24030420

Rakahanga School, located on one of the Cook Islands’ most isolated islands 42 kilometres south of its sister island Manihiki, has seen its roll number increase to 22 this year compared to last year’s roll of 15.

The school has a combination of grades from early childhood education (ECE) to senior level, all led by principal Maggie Purea-Taripo, who is currently the only teacher.

“We now have families who have returned home here to live on the island,” said Purea-Taripo.

Students have settled into school since the beginning of Term 1 several weeks ago. A highlight of the term has been the school house soccer competition held over three weeks.

Two teams named after ariki, Whakaheo and Whaingahitu, played in the tournament, representing Rakahanga Manihiki. The final match was played on February 16, followed by a presentation the following week from the Rakahanga Football president, Apolonari Piho, to the winning team Whakaheo.

A fishing competition for the school students was also held on February 23. Ana Piho took out the prize for the heaviest fish, while Rui Taura and Tianini Hagainoa won the heaviest aggregate section.


Apii Rakahanga students Rui Taura (left) and Tianini Hagainoa won the heaviest fish aggregate section, in the schools’ fishing competition. MAGGIE PUREA-TARIPO/24030421

Purea-Taripo started her career in education in 2014 as an ECE teacher aide. Showing great potential, she soon transitioned to the Concurrent Teacher Training Programme with the Ministry of Education from 2016. She completed the programme both on Rakahanga under the leadership of Barry Ross and on Rarotonga. Committed to her students, she has remained the principal of Apii Rakahanga.

Shaped by a rectangular reef which circles a large shallow lagoon, Rakahanga has two main islands and seven motu or islets. To the east are Akaro, Te Motu o Umura, Huananui, Motu Mahuta, and Motu Okakara. Southwest guarding the widest passage into the lagoon is Te Kainga.

Rakahanga can only be reached by sea.