Hato Petera supporters protest to keep their school open

By Tema Hemi
  • Auckland

The fight to keep Hato Petera College open continued today with whānau and the Tauira Tawhito Steering Komiti of the school, who staged a protest outside the Auckland Catholic Diocese today. 

Supporters of Hato Petera College want to be heard.

Former student Mate Webb says, "Its come to the point now we a very angry, the reason why they are not listening to those behind me who are here today."

Earlier this month Minister of Education Chris Hipkins made an interim decision to cancel the College's integration agreement.

Webb also says, "It's not just the fault of the Catholic church or the ministry of education but we all have a part to play because we haven't been able to work cohesively."

Auckland iwi Ngāti Paoa say that have an interest in the land as one of the iwi who hold mana whenua status in Northcote, the site where the school stands.

Reti Netana Hohaia Boynton of Ngāti Paoa says, "We are actually here today because basically, it was our whānau of Ngāti Paoa that gifted over this whenua for the education of Māori, to us they haven't stuck to the deal so we're saying give our whenua back. 

Established in 1928, the school has been under pressure by the Ministry of education as roll numbers declined. Boynton says if the school is closed, they want the land returned to iwi.

He also says, "If they're not sticking to the agreement they're breaking the law, they're actually stealing our whenua and isn't it a sin to steal so they would say."

Webb finishes by saying, "In terms of the application pertaining to the land, to the tribunal that is another matter to be dealt with in time. Ngāti Paoa is here and perhaps this issue is going to be challenging for the government."

A decision on the future of the school is expected to be released by Minister Hipkins within the next two weeks.