19 Jun 2018

Auckland Māori Catholic school on the brink of closure

6:16 pm on 19 June 2018

The government has announced it intends to close Hato Petera College, the only Māori Catholic co-ed school in the country, after mounting concern around its finances, human resources and low student numbers.

Hato Petera College

The Education Minister announced has announced Hato Petera College in North Shore, Auckland, is facing a shut down. Photo: Google Maps

The school supporters have 28 days to respond before the government makes its final decision.

Hato Petera College closed its boarding facilities in 2015 and student numbers plummeted as a result.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said despite efforts from whānau, staff and the school's Commissioner, concern over the school had remained.

But Phyllis Pomare, the mother of one of the last five remaining students, said the government had given up on the school.

"We're trying to get the school up and running, but the Diocese is against us and the minister seems to be sitting back and just doesn't want to talk to us," Ms Pomare said.

"It just seems that the viability of Māori students at Hato Petera is not on their books. Those are my feelings today, it just feels like constant oppression of Māori."

Ms Pomare said every effort to speak to the education minister about the school had failed.

"Nobody's coming out to speak to us, we can't get any hui with them, even five minutes, we can't even get that," she said.

"I would really desperately like to know what he needs because we've got a really robust and strong business plan moving forward. We just have no idea how we can propose that to anyone."

Hato Petera was the only school fit for her daughter, Stephanie, she said.

"For my whānau, it's the only place that we've found that supports a successful pathway for my daughter, Stephanie. Every other school has not done that for her, but today that's up in the air," Ms Pomare said.

"All those students that are there today feel as though, now I can learn, I know what he's talking about, I know what that means now - before, they didn't."

She said if the minister cancelled the college's integration agreement, those students would miss out.

"If the minister cancels it we have no idea what will happen with those students, and the students on the waiting list who all are facing the same dilemmas - where will they go?"

The future of the college is expected to be decided by the end of July.

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