22 Oct 2013

Parakai School closes last local Maori classroom

7:53 am on 22 October 2013

A Ngati Whatua o Kaipara leader is challenging the Minister of Education to act after the closure of the last Maori classroom in its rohe.

Parakai School in south Kaipara last month closed its Maori medium unit, Te Whare Kakano, blaming low student numbers.

Parents and whanau have launched an online petition to re-open the classroom.

Ngati Whatua o Kaipara chief executive Jason Fox says the closure shows the value the minister, Hekia Parata, puts on Te Reo Maori and what oversight she has of Boards of Trustees in relation to looking after the language.

He says it seems the minister is so occupied by charter schools and the Christchurch rebuild that smaller closures of bi-lingual units around the motu aren't a priority.

Mr Fox says the closures significantly affect the cultural authenticity of particular tribes.

In a statement, Ms Parata said her ministry worked with the school's principal and board last year to explore the sustainability of the unit, but the board still decided to close it.

Ms Parata says she is charged with upholding and protecting the Maori language in schools, and would encourage and support the community to work with the Ministry of Education if they wish to establish Te Reo Maori units in the Kaipara area.