A trailblazing former principal of Flaxmere College has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the New Year Honours that were announced today.
Louise Ānaru-Tangira (known in Hawke’s Bay as Louise Anaru) was principal from 2010 to 2019, when she left to become principal of Kaitaia College, 40km from where she now lives at Mangonui, near the shores of Doubtless Bay in the Far North.
The honour recognises 21 years of service to education, in which she has been credited with leading Flaxmere College from a point of low student achievement and attendance to high achievement rates that were recognised with the Supreme Award at the 2018 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards.
At the school, which opened in 1993 as a Years 7-13 college developed on the site of the former Flaxmere Intermediate School (Years 7-8), she focused on accelerating Māori student progress by working with their whānau and community, drawing input from a student leaders’ group for improvements to the school, and hiring Māori and Pacific staff to connect with students.
She initiated a Teen-Parent Unit and attached an early childhood centre at the school and ensured all staff received professional development in Te Kotahitanga, a culturally responsive collective action learning strategy.
She was also a key member of the Hawke’s Bay Postvention Suicide Group and supported students and other schools in response to student suicides and attempted suicide.
She also set up and was lead principal of her local Community of Learning Te Waka Mārama Kāhui Ako, which now includes nine schools and seven early childhood centres.
She had in 2013 been a recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader Award, and has been otherwise recognised by in 2018 being appointed to the NCEA Professional Advisory Group and the Ministry of Education’s Curriculum and Assessment Reference Group, and judged the 2019 and 2021 Prime Minister’s Educational Excellence Awards.
Ānaru-Rangira began her career in education as a youth tutor at Te Whanau o Waipareira and Poutama in West Auckland in 1998, having attended Western Springs, Avondale and Otahuhu colleges.
She taught at Waitakere College, and then was deputy principal at Taipa Area School, in the Far North, for five and a half years before moving to Hawke’s Bay, at which time she said: “Bottom line, I am committed to every child leaving Flaxmere College reaching their full potential in education. Every child has potential and is capable of achieving NCEA.”
By the time she left achievement rates had rocketed from less than 50 per cent to over 90 per cent.
She told Hawke’s Bay Today NZME partner the Northern Advocate she is “genuinely” surprised and “very humbled” to be recognised in the honours.
“We can make a real positive difference together; perseverance and working together in service of our young people and their communities,” she said. “It has been a real privilege to be of service to education.”