Sad farewell for past and present students of Ngā Kakano o te Kaihanga

By Taiha Molyneux

The last day of the school term is normally a celebratory time for students, however for Ngā Kākano o te Kaihanga it is a sad one as they say good-bye to their classrooms and their school for the last time today.

The Ministry of Education declined the school's application for resource funding last year and today the students are preparing themselves to start at a new school, despite their eagerness to stay put.

19 years after Ngā Kākano o te Kaihanga school was opened, the students and whānau are preparing to close the doors for good.

Principal Te Rangi Allen says, “Obviously they are feeling gutted, disillusioned, disillusioned by promises made and not kept by the Ministry.”

Craig Witters says, “We are all really shocked and gutted and heartbroken. It’s hard to see where to go from here for our children.”

Last year the Ministry of Education declined the school's application for resource funding and since then, supporters of the school have desperately been trying to find ways of keeping it open.

Witters says, “We’ve had this axe hanging over us for the past couple of years. We get hit by the adversity and we rise above it. We work through it and we find a way, but each time the axe gets larger.”

According to recent ERO reports the school was performing well educationally and over 80 percent of its students passed NCEA in 2013.

Allen says, “For 19 years we have been a very successful school. If you look on the internet and look at our ERO reports over 19 years there are 5 of them and every one of them has given a glowing.”

“I was speaking to one of the whānau last night and she was distraught because one of her boys has been everywhere else and this is the only kura that has provided positive outcomes,” says Witters.

Parents of current students attest to the education, spiritual and beneficial attributes the children have gained while attending the school. Today past students have also returned to show their support.

Witters says, “These children are each reinforced on a daily basis that they will achieve if they choose to. There is nothing standing in their way apart from their own belief. They are told they can achieve anything.”

The main focus at this point is ensuring the students about to disperse elsewhere are given the support they deserve.

Allen says, “Give us another chance. Why should we close? Listen to beauty and emotions of the senior students.”

Head of Sector Enablement and Support at teh Ministry of Education,  Katrina Casey says "We were only informed this morning by concerned parents that the kura has told them it had decided to close. We have yet to be told by the school that it is officially closing.  

We have been trying to contact with the Principal and Board chairperson to discuss the situation as the children at the kura are our first priority.

We are looking to clarify the situation and ensure that parents, families and students receive the support and information they need.  

We will work to ensure there is an appropriate transition plan in place for all the children affected so they can start Term 3 in an appropriate school.

Ngā Kakano o Te Kaihanga Kura is a private school and as such we generally have little direct involvement with it, as is common with all private schools.

However, we have attempted to work with the kura on strategies to find viable alternative arrangements to keep the school going, which has included the consideration of a satellite arrangement, but these have been unsuccessful.

 The kura had applied to become a partnership school twice and was unsuccessful in both cases. It had also applied, unsuccessfully, to become a state integrated school."