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Rotorua Boys' High replaces house names with slavery links with new te reo versions

A Rotorua school is moving to scrap its house names after links to slavery surfaced.

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Rotorua Boys' High School deputy principal Rie Morris says the school is diversifying in many ways. Source: Breakfast

For 93 years, Rotorua Boys' High School's houses had been named after colonial explorers, but come the end of the school year they'll only live in the school's archives.

The new names were chosen from the school's pepeha and after consultation with local iwi Ngāti Whakaue.

Next year the houses will become Ngongotahā (red), which was formerly named after Sir Francis Drake, Utuhina (green) which was formerly named after Sir Walter Raleigh, Te Rotorua-nui-a-Kahumatamomoe (blue) which was formerly named after Admiral Horatio Nelson, and Te Akitu a Raukura (yellow) which was formerly named after Sir Martin Frobisher.

Deputy principal Rie Morris this morning told TVNZ1's Breakfast it was just one of the ways the school was diversifying, including her own recent appointment - the first woman in the deputy role.

Morris said around 70 per cent of the school's population was Māori and school's land was gifted by Ngāti Whakaue so it was important to bring te reo into the new names.

"We are moving in a more diverse, I suppose, direction and the school is about diversity and celebrating that," she said.

"There's been actually a lot of focus around the association of Frobisher, Raleigh, Drake and Nelson, the association with slavery and colonialism, but what I want to really get across this morning is that this wasn't the only driver, that wasn't the only reason for the change in house names.

"With a more positive mindset, I suppose you can say, first and foremost it was about recognising that we wanted to make this change based on our relevance to our young men."

When the change in names was announced last week students "broke out, they were cheering, they were clapping in support of that decision", Morris said.

"It was very heartwarming to see their reaction in the hall that day."