Hato Petera supporters protest parliament, lodge Treaty claim

By Talisa Kupenga

A small group of Hato Petera College supporters took to parliament to protest the school's potential closure and announce the filing of a Treaty claim to address the issue.  However, no one was there to receive them at parliament.

It was a peaceful protest but no politicians were there to see it.

Supporter Ratahi Tomuri says, "We contacted the Associate Education Minister and the Education Minister and they were not able to meet with us today."

Phyllis Pomare, mother to one of the five remaining Hato Petera students says, " [Politicians] need to recognise the important place that Māori students do have with Hato Petera.  We've got 90 years of successful students and now you want to take that away."

With the house in recess, Education Minister Chris Hipkins was at an event in Auckland.  Last month he announced an interim decision to cancel the school's integration agreement.

Hipkins says, "I'll be considering very carefully all of the representations that have been made to me and all submissions received on the whether Hato Petera should close.  Ultimately that part is not my decision, my decision is around whether or not it will remain an integrated school or not and then it is up to the proprietor whether or not the school closes."

Pomare says engagement is all they want.

"We just wanted to have a kōrero about it.  Even just a cup of tea.  We would have even brought the cup of tea.  So I've had enough.  We've been calling out to you for seven months and you've been ignoring us for seven months. That's it."

The group lodged a Treaty claim today hoping it could bring results.

Tomuri says, “Here we are, for the last three months, wanting to meet up with him to propose a redevelopment plan and revitalisation for Hato Petera and throughout that duration he hasn't consulted with us."

Fourteen-year-old Hato Petera pupil Stephanie Pomare says her school has a rich history and she wants it to survive.

"The education and success that I've heard from other students, past students and tauira tawhito and their success, that's what I want, to get success out of the school again."

The minister expects to make a final decision around the school's integration agreement in the next few weeks.