2 Nov 2015

Maori school families send message to bishop

5:52 am on 2 November 2015

Families of Hato Petera boarding students are putting the Catholic Church and Bishop of Auckland Patrick Dunn on notice.

Hato Petera College

Hato Petera College Photo: Google Maps

The Catholic Diocese of Auckland and Hato Petera's Whanau Trust Board surprised families when they announced the closing of the historic boarding facilities.

Sir Toby Curtis, college old boy and former principal, is a member of its current review team.

But after attending a meeting with dismayed families yesterday he has decided to lead a delegation which will seek a meeting with Bishop Dunn and raise the possibility of a joint strategy.

He said the families deserved to be consulted and included in a decision which affected them so greatly.

Sir Toby said consultation between the parents, the school and the church was vital so all could be at ease with the outcomes.

Te Arawa leader Sir Toby Curtis.

Sir Toby Curtis Photo: RNZ / Rosemary Rangitauira

On Friday, about 30 boarders were told their accommodation on campus would be ending and next year would not be an option.

Seventy-five percent of all students at Hato Petera live at the school and they come from as far South as Rotorua and all the way to Kaitaia.

Many are about to start NCEA exams.

Their parents expressed surprise and frustration at the way the Bishop of Auckland, the church and board had arrived at the decision. Sir Toby said many feared the end of not just the hostel but school too.

In a statement, the Trust board said the decision to close the hostel was delivered with a heavy heart. One reason, it said, was the state of the buildings which needed investment.

It said the Trust had serious financial issues which would only become worse and the current operating model for the hostel did not meet the student's needs.

RNZ contacted three board members and spoke to two, who both declined to comment.

The meeting with Bishop Patrick Dunn and the parents group led by Sir Toby is hoped to take place in the next day or two. The church is yet to return RNZ's calls.

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