Ngāti Whakaue Puna to reopen after resolving staff issues

By Kereama Wright
Left - Rawiri Bhana. Right - Marg Rolleston. / Source - File

Te Puna Manawa o Whakaue is set to reopen its doors on Monday after voluntarily closing and having their license suspended by the Ministry of Education in October last year.

Marg Rolleston, Chair of Te Taumata o Ngāti Whakaue Iho Ake who manage Te Puna Manawa o Whakaue says that they are excited:

“It feels like a fresh new start in 2020 for Te Taumata. So we’re excited to bring some more life back in to our centre with tamariki coming on Monday.

“In October last year we had our AGM and we brought on 5 new trustees. So that was the beginning of reinvigorating Te Taumata and that was the start of looking forward.”

According to reports, two thirds of the staff had traces of cannabis in their system when tested on September 4 2019.

In a statement The Ministry of Education said, “Te Taumata o Ngāti Whakaue Iho Ake Trust, as a temporary measure, voluntarily closed Te Puna Manawa o Whakaue on 6 September 2019 to manage staffing concerns.”

“Unfortunately by 27 September we were not satisfied with the capability of the Trust to address the Licensing Regulations and Criteria and as result we suspended the licence on 9 October.”

Rolleston said it was the best decision:

“We could see that there were a lot of issues that we needed to deal with.

“The best way to deal with it was actually to close the doors to give our whole organization, our staff in particular, an opportunity to deal with all of those issues without tamariki being around.”

With a new board, a new centre manager and four new staff, Te Taumata o Ngāti Whakaue Iho Ake co-chair, Rawiri Bhana said, regaining the trust of the iwi and whānau is important.

“We want to ensure it’s a safe working environment but a place where our parents can feel that their tamariki are going to be looked after.”

“We’ve got a very strong Ngāti Whakaue curriculum there which has been developed by our own.”

A review of procedures and policies took place over Christmas. They’ve also strengthened their drug policy.

“We have a zero tolerance on drugs. That’s probably gonna challenge a lot of our staff, but it’s actually right across Te Taumata, so we’re not just isolating this to the ECE,” Marg Rolleston says.

The license is provisional till March 3. The Ministry of Education are working closely with the trust to ensure compliance is achieved.

“The provisional licence sets out a number of conditions that must be met for a full licence to be issued. We will continue to closely monitor the trust and its progress on meeting the conditions of its provisional licence. The Trust has until 6 March 2020 to meet these conditions.”

“We are currently reviewing the suspension conditions for Te Puna Akoranga o Ngati Whakaue. Te Puna Akoranga cannot operate with tamariki until such time that we are satisfied that it has met these conditions and we have issued a new provisional or full licence.”