Principal believes Hato Petera College set for closure.

By Talisa Kupenga

The Principal of Hato Petera College says the school is destined for closure. John Matthews claims the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Catholic Church have already made up their minds about the college's future. Matthews expects an announcement will be made at a meeting tomorrow.

It's understood the Ministry of Education and the Catholic Diocese of Auckland met this week to discuss the future of the college. The Ministry provided a statement to Te Kāea confirming the two groups will meet with the college's board tomorrow and announce a decision.

The parties involved in the consultation process include; the Catholic Diocese of Auckland - the land lease holders. Hato Petera Limited, which replaced Te Whānau o Hato Petera Trust this year and was set up to represent the interests of the families of the college and run the hostel. And Te Waka o Petera, another community group, that has been fighting for the college's survival after families voted no confidence in Hato Petera Limited.

Principal John Matthews is expecting the worst.

"I can only think the negative because leading up to this has been negative,” he says.

“The hostels in effect have been closed twice in the last year and each time it has impacted our role, so, at the end of 2015 when both the junior and senior hostels were closed our role halved. [In] 2016 when they do the consultation round it's around the sustainability of the college not the hostel now that our role has been halved. We are a boarding school and without a hostel we've got no school.”

Matthews says the hostel closure was the start of a systematic process to close down the college. Its students have had to seek alternative accommodation at Te Unga waka marae while university students remain in some of the hostel's dorms.

But how come they're allowed to stay and the Hato Petera kids are not?

Matthews says he put that question to MOE.

“Its response was that the licence was for secondary school students, but in any accommodation if you've got five or more people that do not reside there I think you need a licence.”

The Church's lease agreement stems from an 1850s Crown land grant for the purpose of Māori education. Matthews says Hato Petera Limited's licence to run the hostels was revoked earlier this year due to unsafe practise and since then no licence has been granted to anyone.

Matthews says, “the impact on those whanau has been stress and anxiety about where their children will be living from being billeted to living in camp grounds, right at exam time."

To prevent college doors opening next year MOE must notify the board before Thursday in order to meet the deadline to ensure the school closure date is met by January 27.

The Diocese says in a statement as discussions were ongoing with the Ministry it was not appropriate to comment and it was yet to tell Te Kāea when an appropriate time to comment would be. Hato Petera Limited were also contacted but was yet to respond.