Wesley College in the spotlight
One of the most moving points of Conference came at the end of the induction service when Wesley College students encircled the auditorium and performed a haka.
They did so to show their respect to Conference but also to honour Rev Ali’tasi Salesa, who came into full Connexion in the Methodist Church of NZ from the Presbyterian Church. Ali’tasi heads the Life and Faith Department at the College.
Chair of the Wesley College Board of Trustees Rev John Murray says from the College’s point of view it was both a privilege and a huge task to host Conference. It gave the Church a chance to see first hand the school, the work of the staff, and the many talents of the students.
“Wesley College has a special character, which comes from the Church’s directive that it be a school that serves the needs of Pacific Island and Maori students as well as those who are seen as disadvantaged. This means some of our students come from outside the cultural norm of traditional society,” John says.
“There is a tension at Wesley College between being a perfect school and providing opportunities to young people who would not otherwise have them. Our ERO [Education Review Office] report was critical of the level of violence at the school but we are praised by the Ministry of Education for high retention rates for Maori and Pacific Island students.
“Some Year 9 entry level students have a difficult time at Wesley due to the fact that they are away from home and in a place where problems are solved differently than with a punch, as they might be used to. The staff work very carefully with them to find other ways to resolve their disputes. By year 12 and 13 our students know and respect other ways of doing things.”