Nicola Ngarewa

Nicola Ngarewa has led a dramatic turnaround of Tamatea High School. Under her leadership, an underperforming decile three school has become an aspirational and high-achieving learning environment rivalling some of the top schools in New Zealand.


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With a belief in the ability of every individual to achieve, Nicola’s leadership style, as Principal, is one that demands results. She encourages educators, students and whānau to set high expectations and requires all members of the learning community to support student achievement. She insists on each child having a personalised learning pathway, ensuring support mechanisms are in place to assist them in achieving qualifications and goals.

The results are impressive – in just over two years with Nicola as Principal, student achievement levels in NCEA doubled to 91% in Level 1, 94% in Level 2 and 95% in Level 3.

Upon arrival at Tamatea in 2010 Nicola worked with the students to create a set of values around the word PRIDE – participation, respect, integrity, diversity and excellence. This motto has set a standard for achievement and expectation of character that was once viewed as an impossibility at this Hawkes Bay school.

With an inclusive style, Nicola works hard to ensure that all staff participate in decision-making and that all families feel part of the school community.

Nicola has worked in primary, secondary and tertiary teaching roles, as well as in prisons. She has been a Board member for Hawke’s Bay Youth Futures, and a member of a number of national education committees, including the He Kakano advisory committee for Māori achievement and Secondary Principals Council.

Nicola has now moved back to Taranaki and is Acting Principal at Patea School.