Financial lifeline for Te Aute and Hukarere

By Aroha Treacher

It was only three years ago that financial strain threatened to close Te Aute College but with new principal Shane Hiha at the helm to help clear the board's debts, they've been given a second chance.

Principal Shane Hiha believes, “I think it's really good thing, it gives us assurity and give us confidence to go forward.”

However a motion was passed by the Māori arm of the Anglican Church, Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa that will see the St John's College Trust Board (SJCTB), an educational trust, take over the trusteeship of Hukarere and Te Aute.

According to Robin Hapi Heamana of Poari Te Aute. “It is not from the Government but from the Anglican Church. Only they have the right to use the Church's money.”

Te Aute's financial problems date back to 1916, when the Te Aute Trust Board allowed endowment land to be divided into 23 smaller blocks and leased to farmers.

However, while the value of the land increased the revenue coming in never quite kept pace with the market rates.

But as the board looks to put this behind them, the role of the (SJCTB) will be reviewed after three years, and certain protections are in place to safeguard the interests of Ngāti Whatu-i-apiti who donated the farmlands and school site.

Mr Hapi says, “They also have the skills to help support and help us the board of Te Aute.”

The financial help means that Hukarere will be able to rebuild their chapel that was dismantled in 2003 and has been stored in shipping containers for the last 10 years.

It's a long road ahead, but with the support of the SJCTB, both schools will almost certainly get back on an even keel and when that has happened, both schools will be returned to the trusteeship of Te Aute Trust Board.

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