Maori girls with special needs will suffer if the Government shuts down their residential school, because mainstream schools won't be able to offer the same level of service, says a trustee.
The Government plans to close two residential school for girls, including Salisbury School in Nelson.
Salisbury trustee Gaynor Rikihana says Maori parents send their daughters to Salisbury because they're confident their children will do well in a whanau environment.
She says the majority of the kotiro (girls) are from the Waikato-Tainui area, and many of them are from poor families and have intellectual problems with which mainstream schools can't cope.
Ms Rikihana says Maori parents consider it beneficial to send their girls there because Salisbury accommodates to their special needs and makes them feel inclusive.
She says many Maori mothers and fathers have told her the school environment is helping pupils to learn comfortably.