Defence Academy

The Defence Academy is an area of learning that uses teamwork, trust, leadership and resilience. Students are able to apply new knowledge and skills that they have learnt which is reflective of a defence based environment. Activities that the students take part in during the programme will include: Fitness, Marching, TeamBuilding, Leadership, Water safety, Interview techniques, CV creation and NZDF applications.

The students will take part in community based activities such as Waitangi day commemorations as well as being a significant part of the Kawerau Anzac Service. This academy is a great opportunity for those who are considering a role in the New Zealand Defence Force.

Gateway programme

The Gateway programme is a structured hands-on workplace learning opportunity for senior, work-ready students. Students who participate in this programme are those who have an interest in a particular career pathway and just want to see what it is really like on a day-to-day basis. 

Students find work-based learning helps them understand the skills required in their chosen career pathway and also may help lead to an apprenticeship, employment or future training opportunities. Importantly, it helps students understand what is involved in the move from school to work.


The Step-UP programme is available to Tarawera High School students. The purpose of Step-UP is to:

  • Increase student retention in education.
  • Raise student achievement of NCEA Level 2 qualification or an equivalent Level 2 qualification as targeted by the Government’s Better Public Service goals.
  • Improve transitions from secondary to further education and training work.

Step-UP programmes are available for our students at Toi Ohomai Rotorua, Whakatane, Tauranga, Opotoki and at Te Wananga o Aotearoa. Courses available are grouped into the six Vocational Pathways and provide either:

  • A try-out of three different courses – one in Term 1, another in Term 2 and a third in Term 3 within a Vocational Pathway of interest, or
  • A one year intensive course in a Vocational Pathway.

For example – a student can select the Services Industries Pathway and do Term 1 Food and Beverage; Term 2 Hospitality and Tourism; Term 3 Outdoor Experiences OR a one year course working towards a Level 2 New Zealand certificate in (for example) Logistics and Distribution.


Tarawera High School is a member of the Volcanics eLearning community, giving students access to teachers from other schools nationally through eLearning. Students are able to use this opportunity to resolve a “timetable clash” or to study a different course or study at a different level. 

We also have access to a number of courses provided by tertiary institutions, which adds to the range of options available.

Please note that the cost of Tertiary courses are covered by STAR funding, Gateway Funding or by the student and their families where funding is not available.