Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Mike Butler: Kura proceeds as schools struggleLabels: Craig Foss, Hekia Parata, John Key, Malcolm Dixon, Mike Butler
Education Minister Hekia Parata is pushing the plan while a recently retired long-time primary school principal and first-term Hastings district councilor Malcolm Dixon is leading the opposition.
Parata brings to her role as Education Minister the belief that Maori sovereignty “can be cultural or political sovereignty”. (1) Her consultancy company Gardiner and Parata Ltd ran treaty-training courses for the Ministry of Economic Development.
People at the top of the Ministry of Education include veteran public servant Peter Hughes as secretary, bilingual education specialist Rawiri Bell as deputy for “early learning, parents and whanau”, and Parata’s sister Apryll as deputy for “priority education”.
The Ministry of Education bought the 2.8-hectare Arataki Holiday Park in Havelock North and applied to Hastings District Council in 2010 to have the site designated for education purposes.
Havelock North is a suburb of Hastings with 13,071 residents of higher income than the rest of Hastings and is 84 percent non-Maori and 3.5 percent Maori.
Submissions from the public were called for in 2010. The Education Ministry said that the land being made available for an early childhood centre and a primary school to meet the needs of the local community. There was absolutely no mention of secondary or adult education. (2)
Back in 2010, when the Ministry made its resource consent application before any discussion of a kura, it predicted the total rolls of the three local schools would be 1081 and the new school at Arataki would have a roll of 300 by the end of 2015. (3)
But the current roll for the three primary schools in Havelock North total 1370 and estimates for the end of this year stand at 1561.
Since the end of last year there as been an increase of 91 in the combined rolls, which is 20 more than the total roll of the kura.
Arataki Rd is a new subdivision with homeowners building there on the expectation that a new primary school was to be built on the holiday park site.
Yet as a bolt out of the blue in May of last year, Parata announced that the former Arataki Holiday Park will become the site of the full immersion Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Wananga Whare Tapere o Takitimu.
The kura has operated out of leased premises on Albert St, Hastings, since 1996. Any one who had driven past the re-purposed former centre for the intellectually handicapped would have noticed that kura managers appear oblivious to the need for ongoing repairs and maintenance.
The kura kaupapa is a decile 2 school that caters for pupils aged 5-13, and is part of a larger institution that also includes a kohanga reo, for younger children, and a wananga that offers tertiary education. (4) The low decile rating qualifies the kura for endless rivers of funding from central government.
The site of the new kura is decide 10, which requires self reliance by the parents of children at schools in that area. The kura’s low decile rating would continue in Havelock North.
Early letters of opposition to the Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper came from residents although Dixon came to be the spokesman and led the campaign with a passion.
He was given substantial space in the HB Today, which was surprising considering the editor is a South African who appears extremely nervous of touching on race-relations or offending the local big chief who publishes a monthly insert in the Hawke’s Bay Today.
It is also surprising for a former principal, a person who has spent much of his career tiptoeing around the race-based edicts of the Education Ministry, to take up a strong stand on an issue that could easily enflame race-relations.
Dixon was at pains to stress that he fully supported a kura but not in an area where there remains a much greater need for more mainstream primary school space.
He raised the possibility of using the Mangateretere Bilingual school six kilometers away as a possible site that "has a commissioner and four [to] five spare classrooms" as is attended by only 20 pupils.
Katrina Casey, who is the Education Ministry’s head of sector enablement and support, ruled this out on the basis that Mangateretere is bilingual and the new kura would be full immersion. (5)
Dixon found support from long-term resident Jean Te Huia who is general manager of Kahungunu Health Services in Hastings. While she was pro-kura, she said it was not the right site and believed the proposed kura would not survive.
"I don't believe many parents will have an opportunity to engage in school activities as they do in our decile1 schools, when they will be living outside of this community," Ms Te Huia said. (6)
The issue came to a head in November when Dixon wrote to Prime Minister John Key asking him to intervene. Mr Dixon's letter was passed to Parata. The Tukituki MP Craig Foss officially responded at the end of January this year by agreeing to talk to Dixon, which they did, without result.
Dixon concluded in an opinion piece published this week, that the decision to build a kura on the site of the former Arataki Holiday Park was a “fait accompli”. (7)
He wrote that the community had been misled by the Minister who applied for a resource consent on the basis of the need for another primary school and switched to the kura proposal. Her argument that the kura was a “relocation” circumvented the need for consultation specifically on the kura.
The Maori sovereignty Minister and the zealots high up in her Ministry who should be accountable to everyone appear to have forgotten about the schooling needs of non-Maori in Havelock North.
1. Maori Sovereignty, The Maori Perspective (ed. Hineani Elder, Hodder Moa Becket, Auckland 1995
2. Malcolm Dixon: School zoning impacts all of us, HB Today, December 7, 2015. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503459&objectid=11557096
3. Malcolm Dixon: Manipulation behind kura plan, HB Today, February 15, 2016. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503459&objectid=11589973
4. Havelock North motor camp to become kura kaupapa,Dominion Post, May 11, 2015. http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/68457449/Havelock-North-motor-camp-to-become-kura-kaupapa
5. Community fighting kura move, HB Today, November 21, 2015. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503462&objectid=11549211
7. Malcolm Dixon: Manipulation behind kura plan, HB Today, February 15, 2016. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/hawkes-bay-today/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503459&objectid=11589973
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