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In terms of early childhood education, there is a Playcentre group in National Park. However, for daily ECE service, some National Park residents used Taumarunui-based services:

"When I came here that's (Playcentre) what I wanted. But it's once a week, and it's if there is someone available to open it up. And it's a group chat so first you've got to know someone to invite you. It wasn't consistent enough for me so my son goes to (redacted) in Taumarunui. I could also go to Raetihi but I’m worried about driving through Erua, especially when it’s cold. It's a lot safer for me to drive toward Taumarunui especially on those morning drop offs. But it takes a lot out of my day, like, I’m used to working nine to five kind of stuff, because before I lived here I would drop him off, pick him up at five. Easy peasy. Fifteen minutes, done. But now it's a 30-minute drive, so leaving here 30, 40 minutes before hand, driving back."
"[…] You’re in a really hard stage living here, it’s really hard doing the whole pre-school thing, there’s not doubt about it."

In the past there has been childcare or ECE available in National Park, however participants thought that fluctuating numbers of preschoolers impacted on the viability and sustainability of this:

"It's always been an issue. In recent years, it's obviously gone backwards again. But in recent years after my kids left, they did manage to get some money. A few mums got together to fund someone to do care, and it was out of the Playcentre. That was really thriving for two or three years. It can't be long since those kids must have gone to school so I don't know how many preschoolers there are in the village anymore."

The Primary School in National Park was well regarded by participants:

"Most of the kids are friends in and out of school. There's no real strangers at school and the big kids play with the small ones. I heard this on Saturday a woman, her son was an only child and had never played with younger children about when he was here at school here he had the opportunity to give five year olds piggy backs, that sort of thing. So they do play well. All the kids are really connected."

The Primary School in National Park was well regarded by participants:

"Most of the kids are friends in and out of school. There's no real strangers at school and the big kids play with the small ones. I heard this on Saturday a woman, her son was an only child and had never played with younger children about when he was here at school here he had the opportunity to give five year olds piggy backs, that sort of thing. So they do play well. All the kids are really connected."

The Primary School’s biggest challenge was thought to be attracting and retaining staff, which was difficult for a number of reasons:

"It’s actually quite a good school. The things that the school really struggles with is roll and class size. Before COVID they’d gone over 50 and were consistently staying over 50. And so they’d got an extra teacher and they got some traction. Then the mandate happened, and they lost a few families and they had multiple children and now it's dropped again but not far enough to make class sizes manageable. It's hard to manage a range of needs..."
"They have difficulty retaining staff. I can't remember a year that all staff have been retained one year to the next. It's not an easy place to live. Accommodation, work for the partners, childcare. Those, all of those issues feed into that. The fluctuating role also means it's hard to keep all the positions permanently. And when it could be any one role that isn't permanent, then they all leave. If they don't have any certainty you either hang on in there and hope... or you go and put some feelers out and next minute they've got a job somewhere else and the school is trying to find staff again. It's a hard place to bring people to."
"(The school house) is an old house, built pre-whatever. It's rough cast which is cold. So all those issues. So unless you get someone's who is passionate about the mountain. And it's a hard job; you've got a massive age range, diverse needs, and then they don't necessarily see opportunities for their kids because the high schools are questionable so if you've got the option to move early and go someone where bigger where you'd have more confidence in the high school, then why would you stay around? The reason that most of the families that are still here are still here is because of the mountain because they’re skiers, snowboarders or whatever."
"So the kids can have a different teacher each year and the classes are really big, and if there’s behavioural issues…and that kind of thing."
"I don’t know how big a factor it is but when they opened up homeschooling as part of lockdown, I know some people in the broader area who have taken advantage of that. But most have come back. "

High schoolers from National Park could travel to high school by bus. As in 2020, the position of National Park almost equidistance form Taumarunui and Ohakune led to some ambivalence around which direction National Park high schools should go for their schooling:

"The high school has now got a bus, we're on the border. In Raurimu you're meant to go to high school in Taumarunui. But at the moment no one wants to go to high school in Taumarunui so Raurimu children will drive to National Park where they can get a bus to take them to Ruapehu (college)."
"We are 0.2 of a kilometre closer to Taumarunui School than we are to Ruapehu. And then the other issue the school faces are like they have a… I can't remember what it is called, the thing they do in conjunction with the high school - we're right on the boundary, so does the school join the activities in that area or join the activity in that area. So, for tech, do you go that way, or do you go that way? And where are most going to go to high school? There used to be a lot of, I don't know if this is the right term to use, but ‘white flight’ where people would leave at the end of primary school and go to the city because they don't want their kids going to the local schools and they're in the privileged position where they can."
"All my kids are all here at the high school at Ruapehu making the most of it."

Very few highschoolers went to Taumarunui High School, some went to boarding school, and participants felt that most highschoolers in National Park attended Ruapehu College:

"Our child went to boarding school when we first moved here and the decision was made based on actually, before moved, contacting some parents. We spoke to (redacted personal name), contacted some parents. We spoke to (redacted personal name) and the sense we got was that the better school is in Ruapehu but there was no transport to Ruapehu at that stage. Taumarunui didn't have a good reputation, so we thought boarding was the best option."
"Virtually everybody is now going to Ruapehu. Although the kids that I know in recent years that have gone to Taumarunui have done really well in Taumarunui because they’re independent, confident, capable learners and they, the parents that I know who have sent their children to Taumarunui haven’t regretted it. But now the majority are going to Ruapehu and there’s a strong kind of idea that you know, we’re all moving on together."

Ruapehu College was generally considered in positive terms:

"My experience there is that the teachers really care. Super care. Like, I was really blown away the first time I went to parent teacher interview there. I definitely believe they really care about your kids."
"I don’t think they have all the opportunities they might at a bigger school. No way, of course they don’t. But many of them just take the opportunities they do have. My child surprised me a few weeks ago when I busy telling someone a few weeks ago when I was telling someone that my child wouldn't have liked to go to a better school. And he was like, well, actually, I would have done. And I was like, Oh! Sorry! Yeah well, I wasn't going to send him away because I didn't want to that. But he said he would have quite liked to do that to go to a school with better, you know. But the kids do alright. Academically they get scholarships, they hold their own in the degrees they want to do, though there aren't many that do it. The main thing is I feel that the teachers really care. I think that makes a difference. They're all in the production, many of them. That teacher puts in so much energy. They won the regional Rock Quest this year. So, they do things, they do all right in sports and the teachers really put a lot of time and energy into that as well. The school is fine, it's solid."

Outside of school, most extra-curricular activities for children were held in towns such as Taumarunui, or in Ohakune after school. This entailed a lot of driving which was time-consuming and costly for parents.

"Afterschool if they don't make the bus back you've got to go pick them up. I've got a friend who works in Ohakune so I ask, can you bring my kid back? But that is the continual problem out here, if you don't want to be driving all the time it's easier to send them away."

Around National Park, children were often seen outside, and participants felt that they developed good personal skills. Older teenagers could find summer opportunities in tourism:

"They’re riding their bikes, that’s what I like about it here. They just cruise around the streets."
"Often the kids will work as assistant guides. The 15, 16, 17-year-olds from local families. And one of the reasons they do that is that they’re already so good. They’re really independent, they already think for themselves, and I think a lot of it is that maybe their parents don’t realise it, but just going out, going up the mountain or for a walk or a climb, or something in outdoors is just what they do but I think it’s a really good way of developing them. Our youngest daughter went to school in Taumarunui, but she said looking back that was really good because getting from Raurimu to Taumarunui, she had to sort out all the logistics. Then when she went to uni and had to work out buses and that sort of thing, she was really good whereas a lot of her friends were like, "Oh! What do we do?" So, I think this place probably does set our kids up pretty well in many ways."
"They’re very capable. Even the kids that go to boarding school spend their holidays here. They do the round the mountain at age 13 and 14. I felt comfortable them staying in huts. They decided to go to Waiouru and took the wrong track. But you know, that didn’t faze them."

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