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New Zealand Special

The twisted branches of the Pohutakawa tree reach out from the coast as if trying to touch the sea. Its fine red-needled blossoms are a sister to the Lehua flower of the O’hia trees of Hawai’i. Blue skies are brushed with strokes of white, revealing the origins of New Zealand’s Maori name, Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud. 

Nearly equivalent in size to the American state of Colorado, with a population of 4.5 million friendly Kiwis, New Zealand’s landscape is as diverse as it is vibrant. From golden sandy bays to towering glaciers, this small country offers landscapes of many kinds.

In the creation myth, the great Polynesian demigod, Maui, used the jawbone of his grandmother to fish up the North Island or Te Ika a Maui (the fish of Maui) from his boat known as the South Island, Te Waka a Maui (the canoe of Maui). This image gives a sense of the geographic sizes of the islands; the North Island, though the smaller of the two, is more populated while the South Island stretches south like a canoe. The North Island is home to six Steiner schools while the South Island has three.

During my visit, I was able to visit seven Waldorf schools, one Camphill community, the Weleda pharmacy and gardens as well as Taruna College, an Anthroposophic training and conference center. Anyone involved with schools knows that the weeks leading up to the winter holiday season is always a hectic time but here in the Southern Hemisphere they are also bringing the school year to an end. Despite being the busiest time of the year for New Zealand schools, I was grateful to be welcomed into each community with warmth and generosity.

I began my journey in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. After visiting two schools in and around Auckland, I made my way south to the capital city, Wellington, to see four more schools on the North Island. A four-hour ferry ride took me across the Cook Straight to the South Island where I spent time at two more schools.   

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Featured Properties in New Zealand

Steiner/Waldorf Schools in New Zealand

Michael Park Steiner School, Auckland

Located in New Zealand’s largest city, Michael Park opened its doors in 1979 with a kindergarten as well as grades 1 through 4. The thriving school now serves children from kindergarten to high school on their beautiful purpose-built campus. In April, Michael Park will host a three-day conference celebrating 100 Years of Steiner education. Thank you to Donna Bainbridge, the deputy principal, who spent the morning with me when I visited.

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Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School

Titirangi Rudolf Steiner School is located in West Auckland’s Waitakere Ranges on nearly 100 beautiful acres of land stretching down to the sea. It began as a kindergarten initiative in 1986 and now serves children from birth to 18.

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Tauranga Waldorf School

Tauranga Waldorf School is located about 2.5 hours southeast of Auckland in the seaside town of Tauranga. The school was established in 1988 and now serves children from birth to 13 on its well-tended 16-acre campus. The land is also home to pigs, cows, and chickens as well as an outdoor classroom, where kindergarteners, who will be moving on to first grade, spend their last term.

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Taikura Rudolf Steiner School, Hastings

Taikura Rudolf Steiner School, founded in 1950, is located on the east coast of the North Island in the Hawke’s Bay region. A seaside area rich in agriculture, it is also home to a number of other Anthroposophic impulses including Weleda farm and pharmacy, Hohepa, a residential community serving those with intellectual disabilities, and Taruna College, the local center for training and workshops.

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Raphael House Steiner School, Wellington

Raphael House is located on 12 beautiful hillside acres in the riverside city of Lower Hutt, 15 minutes north of New Zealand’s vibrant capital city, Wellington. The school, which opened in 1979 with 12 students, is now home to classes ranging from kindergarten through high school. Thanks to Clare for the tour, Kate for the conversation and Fabiana, one of the kindergarten teachers, for letting me join in your class for some of the morning.

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Te Ra, Paraparaumu

Drive 45 minutes north along the Kapiti coast from Raphael House in Lower Hutt and you will come to the small town of Raumati South, home of small and friendly Te Ra Steiner School. Though founded in 1996, Te Ra moved to its current location tucked between the ocean and the bush covered hills in 1998. Te Ra offers a Waldorf curriculum to children from kindergarten through middle school as well as hosting play groups for the younger child.

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Motueka Steiner School

Motueka Steiner School is situated on the north end of the South Island, the sunniest part of New Zealand. Both its weather and its close proximity to both Abel Tasman National Park as well as Kahurangi National Park make the area a favorite stop for visitors to New Zealand. The kindergarten opened in 1984 and the primary school opened in 2002. About 100 children are served through their playgroups, kindergarten and grade school.

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Christchurch Rudolf Steiner School

Christchurch Rudolf Steiner School is located in the largest city on the South Island and the third largest city in New Zealand behind Auckland and Wellington. Founded in 1975, Christchurch Rudolf Steiner School has grown into a thriving school which serves about 400 students from kindergarten through high school.

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