Waiouru is felt to be a very safe place to bring up children and this has an effect on how children operate in the community.
“From a parents perspective, from what I hear from those in camp that have come here from the city, is that they go, ‘Oh my god, my kid doesn’t sit here on the iPad, they’re building trees, building huts, biking around, because they can!’ Probably the primary school ones, that’s a huge positive.”
In terms of early childhood education:
“There’s a kindergarten up there but I have heard there is a wait to get in. It does depend on the numbers coming in and out. I didn’t have any problems when I had my kids there but that was a few years ago.”
Waiouru has a single primary school, which is well regarded. However some health and social services available to students at the school were considered hard to access in Waiouru.
“I think the school’s good. I think the school’s bloody marvelous. The kids learn life skills and community and they’re there for each other. And I like Ruapehu College too. I don’t know what Taihape is like.”
“Resource Teachers: Learning and behaviour are available at the school, they help kids with learning or behaviour issues. But one thing that probably all schools lack is counselling. There is no counselling in this place whatsoever. There is nothing for children, and there’s a need. We have children with mental illness, with autism, lots of kids with anxiety and we’re just not qualified to help these kids.”
The relief teaching pool is funnily enough quite good. There’s quite a good pool in the area actually.”
For their high schooling, local children attend Ruapehu College or Taihape Area School or attend a boarding school.
It was noted that the infrastructure to support bus travel was lacking for children travelling to Ohakune to attend Ruapehu College.
“One thing that my daughter said is that there is no sheltered bus stops for them to wait. Either here or at the college. Teachers complain about them getting wet and stuff but there is nowhere for them to wait. So that’s one thing she said would be good, its sheltered bus stops.”
Outside of school there are some extracurricular activities available, dependent on who is available at any given time to run an activity therefore some activities are not consistently available year to year. Generally, it was thought that there were more opportunities needed for older children and teenagers.
“And there’s things there for kids afterschool but it’s based on people volunteering. It comes with members of the community who do taekwondo, or ballet and they’re volunteers. So that’s what you rely on is members of the community who give their time to do these things for the kids.”
“All the clubs for school aged children, they’re not actually affiliated clubs. They’re just a parent who gets off their butt and arranged, like Thursday soccer. It’s based on what parents are available and how many kids are interested.”
“Other schools have people with a long-term relationship to the school to help out. Like, fifth generation of the school. We don’t get that.”