2 Aug 2015

Concerns for the future of Hato Petera

12:28 pm on 2 August 2015

A top figure at Auckland's only Maori boarding school has been suspended and three other managers have quit.

Hato Petera College principal John Matthews has been suspended from his role as Chief Executive of the accommodation division, but remains head of the school.

Hato Petera College

Hato Petera College Photo: Google Maps

The move has caused further disharmony between trustees of the school boards, one of which runs the school, while the other is responsible for the marae, the hostel and the school chapel.

It also triggered three resignations, including the hostel General Manager Shanan Halbert who said every opportunity to progress Hato Petera college had been blocked.

A project to renew the dilapidated hostel buildings was recently voted down, meaning 76 students will remain in the buildings. In a visit to the accomodation this year by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, he said the conditions left him speechless.

Recently, the Catholic church offered a significantly reduced lease to the school, down from 25 years to just five.

This lease was signed by board co-chair Dr Lance O'Sullivan without full support from other trustees. Dr O'Sullivan had two children at the school, but withdrew one earlier this year.

Trustee Rudy Taylor told Radio New Zealand the five year lease offer from the church was "unfair" and accused Dr O'Sullivan of having a hidden agenda.

Dr O'Sullivan and the other co-chair of the Whanau Trust, Tame Te Rangi, did not return calls from Radio New Zealand.

A spokeswoman for Bishop Patrick Dunn said he wouldn't be making a comment.

Hato Petera is one of six remaining Maori boarding schools and counts among its past pupils Dr Ranginui Walker, All Black Walter Little and the late artist Ralph Hotere, ONZ.

It made headlines in recent months after allegations of bullying at the school's hostel, though after an internal investigation the Ministry of Education said it was satisfied the school had appropriately addressed the issues.