3 Sep 2015

School seeks strategies to avert closure

8:20 am on 3 September 2015

A Māori boarding school's board of trustees is holding hui with its owner, the Presbyterian Church, to find strategies to stop it from closing.

Students at Turakina Maori Girls' School.

Students at Turakina Maori Girls' School. Photo: Facebook

The Ministry of Education is considering shutting down Turakina Māori Girls' College in Marton after its roll fell to just 54 students this year.

But the board of trustees said no-one had come forward to support that proposal.

A government report blames the college's financial problems and rundown buildings on the trust board - the school's proprietor - which is part of the Presbyterian Church.

The trust board is a separate organisation to the board of trustees.

Board of trustees chair Trish Biddle-Amoroa said it held a hui last Thursday night with the church's trust board and both will take steps to keep the kura open.

She said the church had a plan to address the kura's financial problems and repair the buildings.

"We were reassured of that [by the proprietor's trust board] at the hui and they told us that was what they were looking at doing. They are ensuring the hostel is a safe environment, not only the buildings being safe, but the girls being safe... so the girls feel like it's their home away from home, ensuring that they're emotionally safe."

She said the trustees would supply the education minister with a report next Friday to prove its viability, but will first meet with the church board this Saturday to go through its report.

"To see if there's anything that we can add to it or they can add to ours, then our independent facilitator [Bill Hamilton] has the next six days to go through and critique it and we can get feedback to the board of proprietors on their one."

Ms Biddle-Amoroa said the board had the support of iwi Ngāti Apa in drumming up enough enrolments for next year and it was confident it could get the numbers.

"Our target is 100, some may say that's a bit far-fetched, but the support is out there and indicators are out there that that possibility is likely - it can happen."

Ms Biddle-Amoroa said that would help demonstrate that the school is sustainable and viable.