10 Sep 2015

Boarding school plan needed - Māori Party

8:57 am on 10 September 2015

The Māori Party is calling for a national hui on the issues facing the country's six remaining Māori boarding schools.

Turakina Māori Girls' College's future is at risk, with the Ministry of Education considering closing the kura - which opened in 1905.

Students at Turakina Maori Girls' School.

Students at Turakina Māori Girls' College, which has been open since 1905. Photo: Facebook

The Presbyterian boarding school's roll has fallen to just 54 students. It is one of six remaining Māori boarding schools, along with Te Aute in Hawke's Bay, Wesley College in Pukekohe, Hato Paora in Feilding, Hato Petera in Auckland and St Joseph's in Napier.

Minister of Education Hekia Parata has said her ministry had been working with Turakina Māori Girls' College for three years, but there had not been enough progress in improving its financial situation and buildings.

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said there were bigger issues at work and the main players affected needed to come together to find solutions.

She said those taking part in the hui should include Māori boarding schools and their governance bodies, parents, communities and the Ministry of Education, as well as other groups, including churches.

"The thing is that there is a space here for church around the integrated nature of the schools and how do we continue to maintain buildings in the competitive environment for students in boarding school education?

"The conversation needs to be had to bring those groups together to ensure that common issues are identified and there's a pathway to overcome them," she said.

Ms Fox said it was important that the role of Māori boarding schools was defined.

"They need to come together and determine if it's valuable to the community. [If] there's a place for Māori boarding schools in the future of our country, then how do we overcome the issues that are plaguing them right now to ensure that they can continue?"