Te Whānau o Hato Petera Trust make tough call to close school's hostels

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

The chair of Hato Petera College's Board of Trustees, Mate Webb, has expressed disappointment at a decision by the Whānau o Hato Petera Trust to close the school's hostels. Whānau Trust chair Lance O'Sullivan says it is untenable for the trust to continue to provide the supportive environment that is required.

The cold and draughty hostels have forced the Board of the Whānau o Hato Petera Trust to remove over 30 junior students.  

The chairman of the school's Board of Trustees (BoT) is outraged.  Webb says, "They waited until the school holidays and sent a notice to the families saying, don't bring your children back to here, send them to another school."

O'Sullivan says the decision was due to financial and maintenance issues, "We are unable to put our hand on our hearts and say to parents, hey we can provide the living environment for your children and your mokopuna to come to and have an opportunity to further their education."

The 30 junior students left without accommodation have two options, continue to attend Hato Petera or seek education elsewhere.

O'Sullivan says, "We know this is not an easy decision, this is a difficult decision to make.  Unfortunately some of those decisions that we need to make will be challenging and are difficult for whānau."

But Webb argues the Board of the Whānau Trust needs to be abolished, "Let the BoT deal with the living arrangements for the students and the academic side too."

"The current mode which we have and that probably includes two governance boards, is not a workable model.  Who knows what it looks like, that's an interesting suggestion, I haven't heard it," says O'Sullivan.

A review will be conducted soon.  Parents are also calling for an AGM to share their thoughts and look at a new model for the school.