Education Minister gives Northland charter school a second chance

By Dean Nathan

The Education Minister has given a troubled Northland charter school a second chance despite an audit advising against it.

But Whangaruru's Te Pūmanawa o te Wairua's future is still uncertain and the Minister says she could still shut it down if it fails another audit in October.

Here's what Hekia Parata had to say, “They've found that their children aren't going to schools in Whangarei or elsewhere.  What they really want is for their children to excel academically.  That's what they want, that's what I really want.  So I've encouraged them to support these children, but if these issues are not rectified by the end of the year, it will be closed.”

It was a spontaneous reaction from students to the good news.

Chair of Ngā Parirau o te Mātauranga Trust, Dee-Ann Brown says, “We're really pleased and very humbled as well with the minister’s announcement.  We've had to do quite a few things to get this far and I think we've done what’s required but there’s still alto more work to do as well.”

For months on from the Minister putting Te Pūmanawa o te Wairua on notice, things are moving ahead.

Brown says, “We're funded for 40 students and we have 39 enrolled.  Most days we have a minimum of 37 attending school so that’s huge progress for us.”

Meri Barber says, “I’m happy that the aspirations of our elders will be achieved.  We have the teachers and support now to meet our educational goals so that our children to reach lofty heights.”

Despite today’s announcement by the Minister, the full audit review of this school will not be completed until October when Hekia Parata will make her final decision on the future o Te Pūmanawa o Te Wairua.

The school was set up to cater for students who had become disengaged in mainstream education.

Brown says, “We have a lot of potential for this school to be a really good school, particularly targeting those who are disengaged in education and this a new opportunity and just another option of education for our Māori students in the North.”

While this matter is not finalised today, this school was given a lifeline.