The Ponatahi Christian School Prospectus
Ponatahi Christian School is the school of the Reformed Congregations of New Zealand. This school was initially established by a former generation of leaders of the Reformed Congregations of New Zealand, at Carterton. These church leaders, and concerned parents in the church, felt that it was not possible to send the children of the church to a state school while remaining faithful to the vows parents make when baptising their children. These solemn vows bind the parents to nurture their children under the teachings and values of the Word of God, to the utmost of the parents’ ability, including the hours of schooling. We are bringing our children up in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to the enduring moral law (ten commandments) in particular, and the Word of God in general. In addition, there is a growing religiosity which embraces the Biblical theology of salvation by faith alone and yet separates this from godly living in a manner which scripture soundly condemns (“faith without works is dead” James 2:20). This is manifest in entertainments which blatantly contradict God’s moral law, the Lord’s Day no longer being holy, and contemporary worship not according to scripture which pleases man rather than God. We need to teach our children the call of salvation that goes hand in hand with godly living and serving God through serving others, without falling into the trap of legalistically thinking we earn our way into God’s favour.
As a result of hard work, self-denial, and the ultimate riches of God to unworthy sinners, God has given us this school, and graciously maintained it from 1978 until now. Even though the former generation of church leaders has now passed away, the children of the former leaders are well represented in leadership roles in the church, school management, and school governance, and their great grandchildren are well represented among the students. It is now our task, like the generation gone before, to serve the Lord, to instruct the next generation, and to plead for the Lord’s mercies for the next generation who will one day be in our place, God willing.
State schools have many positive features, with many hard-working staff, and can provide sporting and cultural opportunities that we cannot hope to compete with. Yet they also deliver a subtle message every hour of every day of the child’s education: Happiness, success, and fulfilment in life can all be achieved without God. This powerful message, echoed by modern entertainment media and reinforced by peer pressure, erodes the resolve of the most steadfast child until he/she does not need God any more. This is reinforced by evolution in science class, and the attractiveness of the morals evident in health education, literature studies, etc. And so the child’s mind is set for life! (And we have to be careful that our children are not getting the same message hourly from cell phones.)
It is not our goal to compete with other schools, and we don’t value the “league tables” NCEA results or other assessment data in the media which are so misleading as an indicator of school performance. Yet the Lord has promised that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness then all these things will be added (Matthew 6:33). Consequently, for academic reasons alone, our aim is that this school would also be the first choice of parents. Yet this is not the reason why parents should send their children here.
We serve a King and a Kingdom that is larger than a single denomination. We also believe that faithful stewards of God’s gifts do not keep His gifts to themselves. Therefore within certain limits, the school’s doors are open to families outside of the Proprietor church. Over the years we have had many positive experiences from many current and former students, parents, and staff members from a variety of denominational backgrounds, and the school would not have been the same without them. Once inside the school, denominational boundaries are no longer recognised for students or staff, except for the Proprietors restrictions on who may teach Religious Education and a small number of “tagged” teacher positions.
Peter Bertram, Principal