St Stephen's School | TĪPENE

Steadfast towards the Heavens | Titiro matatau atu ki te Rangi

Joe Harawira

Joe Harawira

House : Bennet House

Years attended Tīpene: 1970 -1974

Former Tīpene prefect and now Chair of the Tīpene Old Boys’ Association, Joe Harawira (Ngāi te Rangi, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Tūhourangi) believes everyone is born with the potential to lead, it just takes encouragement and whakapono (belief) to unlock this from within – two key principles Joe says Tīpene champions.

Firmly shaped by the values of his whānau and experiences growing up, Joe, alongside his five brothers, followed the legacy of their tīpuna: his uncles and cousins attended Tīpene, going as far back as the 1930s when the school first opened at Bombay. It was his Dad’s decision to send him to Tīpene, on the recommendation of then Whakatāne High School Principal, Peter McClay, who felt Joe wouldn’t achieve his potential if he remained in mainstream education. Joe describes his teenage self as “a bit of a hianga (mischief),” who needed a change of scenery and the right environment to bring out his potential.

Once at Tīpene, Joe’s outlook soon changed. While he admits he wasn’t overly academic, Joe says his time at Tipene, and in particular the extra-curricular activities available to him, boosted his confidence to take up leadership opportunities and enter the world of the performing arts. 

“Having the opportunity to lead kapa haka, explore drama/theatre, and eventually represent the school as prefect in 1974, were experiences that I can only describe as being the perfect platforms that positioned me to be where I am today,” he shares. The supportive and uplifting environment gave students the tools and courage to tap into their own abilities, and became the launching pad for many young Māori leaders.

The array of opportunity at Tīpene filled Joe’s education kete, which he admits has had a marked influence on where he is today and the depth of experiences bestowed upon him.

“Little did I know as the young hianga that I was, that I would eventually traverse the world for 30+ years as a Storyteller, lead a kapa haka group for 32 years, sit as Head Judge at Regional and National Te Matatini competitions, serve as Pou Tikanga for the Department of Conservation spanning the last 22 years, Kaumatua to the Governor General, and Chair of Ngāti Awa amongst other things.”

The attributes and values Joe acquired during his time at Tīpene laid the foundation for 24 years in education: 14 years as a kaiako (teacher), five of those as a Deputy Principal, and ten years as an Advisor for Māori Education in the North Waikato-Hauraki rohe (region).

To parents thinking about sending their boys to Tīpene, he is steadfast: “take the opportunities that will forge your boy a solid education, so they may reach beyond the stars.” 

Tīpene afforded Joe a better chance at education and he firmly believes he would not be where he is today, if it weren’t for the foresight of the Principal of Whakatāne High School, in recommending he attend St Stephen’s.

“St Stephen’s School and what it gave me, was without a doubt the introduction to unleashing and nurturing my potential.”