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.
Our family moved from Bend, Oregon in the U.S. to Motueka, New Zealand in September 2017. In the U.S., our 13-year-old daughter, Alexandra, was homeschooled initially and then attended the Waldorf School of Bend. When we moved to New Zealand, Alexandra enrolled in the Motueka Steiner School; she truly loves the school and says it has been “the best experience of my life”.
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.
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. The school, just minutes out of the artsy village of Titirangi, is a 30-minute drive from Auckland. Another 30 minutes will bring you to a multitude of dramatic west coast beaches, one of which I was hosted for the day by two of the school’s founding teachers.
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. Many thanks to Dominique Adcock, kindergarten administrator, who spent the day showing me around Tauranga’s city school in the country.
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 trainings and workshops.
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.
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.
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 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.
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. Sending a big thank you to Thomas, the director, a Waldorf grad himself. He warmly welcomed me despite being the busiest time of the year!