Hipkins puts off decision on future of Hato Pētera College

The minister of education Chris Hipkins paid a visit to Hato Petera Colleg on Thursday.

After meeting more than 40 members of the school community Hipkins told media he wanted to hear from the community and former students before he made his decision.

“It won’t be a matter of months. I do want to get something sooner than that to give certainty to the school community.

But I also do want to stay true to my word and consider the feedback I was given today and the feedback they’ve been giving me through other means.”

This also meant reviewing the advice he had received from the Ministry of Education and the Catholic Diocese of Auckland, he said.

Despite being pressed on the future of Hato Pētera College beyond the integration agreement, Hipkins said it was ultimately over to the diocese what happened to the school, including returning the land to iwi.

“That’s obviously a matter for the Treaty settlement process. That will fall outside my ministerial portfolio.”

The Church has not yet heard from Hipkins but the diocese’s vicar of education, Linda McQuade gave the minister her card as he left.

Catholic Bishop of Auckland Pat Dunn said the land was given to the Church by Governor George Grey for the education of children of “both races” Māori and Pākehā, and the Church would honour that.

“Our problem over the years has been that Māori parents have chosen not to send their children here,” he said.

“I don’t know how to turn that around. Restarting a school from scratch would be a huge challenge.”

Earlier this week two families whose ancestors lived around the site of Northcote’s Hato Pētera College 170 years ago have “repossessed” the land.

Kaitaia-based Kotahitanga Aotearoa Movement leader Reti Hohaia Netana Boynton said the group, representing the Peters and Turoa families from the Ngāti Paoa iwi.

They said they planned to reopen a school for Māori on the site in line with an original land grant by Governor George Grey to the Catholic Church in 1850.

Boynton was allowed into the meeting and urged Hipkins to keep the college open.

Ngāti Paoa Iwi chairman Gary Thompson said Boynton’s group did not represent the whole iwi.

Thompson, a former Hato Pētera house parent,  said he has told the Hipkins and the Catholic Church that the iwi wants to be involved in any decision about the school, but said he had not heard from Hipkins.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: , ,