Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced the cancellation of the integration agreement for Hato Petera College, effective today.
“Despite all efforts to find a way of keeping the school going, the reality is that it is no longer able to provide a quality of education,” says Hipkins.
He says this view is consistent with the Education Review Office’s October 2017 report on the College.
“The cancellation of the integration agreement for Hato Petera is in mutual agreement with the Proprietor, the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Auckland.
“Closing schools is never an easy decision. But the roll has fluctuated between 1 and 5 this year, down from around 20 last year and just under 50 in 2016, and there are limited opportunities for the students to have social interaction with peers, says Hipkins.
“The classroom environment is lonely despite the best intentions of the staff.”
In the 1990s between 100 and 200 students attended the school.
“Today’s announcement, while sad for those involved, will end a period of uncertainty for students and staff.”
He says the Ministry of Education and the Proprietor will provide assistance as needed to help the remaining students enroll at other schools. The Ministry and PPTA will also work with current staff.
Ownership of the land
The Diocese owns the land, says Hipkins.
“They have indicated to me they would like it to continue to be used for educational purposes consistent with the original deed of gift from the Crown.
“It is now for them to discuss the next steps with the Ministry of Education.”
Earlier this month, Ngāti Pāoa descendants told Te Kāea that if the land the school is built on wasn't going to be used by the Crown to educate Māori, they're repossessing it.
A spokesperson for the Peters whānau of Ngāti Pāoa, Reti Boynton told Te Kāea, "If they aren’t going to do what our tūpuna gave this whenua for, the deal is broken, simply give it back or I'll be taking it on behalf of my family."
The College was established in 1928 as a private school, becoming a state integrated school in 1981.