Flavell blames churches for demise of Māori schools

The Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell has accused the churches of not fulfilling their obligations to Māori schools.

There are six remaining Māori boarding schools, including three owned by the Catholic Church: Hato Paora in Feilding, Hato Petera in Auckland and St Joseph’s in Napier.

“If they really want those schools to flourish they’ve got to kick in with some financial contribution, can’t leave it to the state because the state is actually providing the resource to allow the teaching of education to happen,” Flavell says.

“The boarding element has always been at the heart of all the issues and that’s their downfall.”

“They have not supported and fulfilled their obligation to those schools by not upgrading the facilities that are sorely needed and created a good, positive working environment with the board of trustees,” Flavell said.

Flavell said, if the churches wanted the schools to flourish, they had to make more of a financial contribution – and the best case scenario was that the churches would get far more heavily involved.

“[To] ensure their commitment to [the] ongoing education of Māori people that they’ve had the privilege of having under their auspices for the last 100-plus years.”

“Those schools have huge history and the church[es] set them up for a particular purpose.”

“Flavell said he had spoken to church representatives in the past about all of the Māori boarding schools, and they were aware of the issues.”

“That’s a discussion they’re having internally and I understand there’s even internal conflict – if you want to put it that way – between those who are actually clergy and the church in the wider sense about their contributions to Māori education.”

A Māori Boarding Schools Summit hosted by the board of proprietors of Turakina Māori Girls’ College will take place on 5 and 6 November in Wellington to discuss the contribution of the kura to nation-building.

Flavell was speaking after it was announced that an interim decision has been made to close Marton’s Turakina Māori Girls boarding school at the end of this year.

Education Minister Hekia Parata said the issues facing Turakina were not new, and other Māori faith-based boarding schools have faced the same challenges as Turakina has.

Parata says the issues are, “costs of maintaining the premises, the attracting of a viable roll so that a wide and rich curriculum can be offered to the students.”

She says, “The Māori boarding schools model is all under the State Integrated Act, so these are faith-based schools, which means that the churches are the owners of the boarding schools and therefore have the responsibilities of maintaining them, and they face challenges as well, so in that sense they’re no-one’s fault.”

“I guess I’m saying, it is 2015, there are more choices available to parents and they are making those choices.”


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