Natalie Akoorie

Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Pupils' parents search for new student hostel

Euphrasie House is closing down at the end of the year. Photo / Christine Cornege.
Euphrasie House is closing down at the end of the year. Photo / Christine Cornege.

The parents of about 50 boarders at Euphrasie House, a Catholic girls' hostel in Hamilton, are negotiating a new home for their daughters now all hope of remaining at the ageing building has been dashed.

Closure of the Sacred Heart Girls' College hostel, which was deemed substandard in a 2007 building report, was brought forward to the end of this year after the Mission College Hamilton Trust Board said it could not afford to keep it open for another 12 months.

The building, opened in 1939 and now home to 62 students, would cost about $3.5 million to make earthquake resistant or up to $8 million to rebuild.

A group of parents whose daughters were in various stages of schooling at Sacred Heart had wanted to continue leasing the hostel from its owners, the Sisters of Our Lady of the Mission, while raising money for repairs.

But the sisters reneged after discovering they would be liable for the boarders' safety if disaster struck.

Parent group leader Nick Prendergast, whose daughter Alice is the last of five sisters to go through the hostel, said the decision was "a bitter pill to swallow".

But the group was negotiating with the owners of another building in the city which they hoped would be a solution to the closure.

Mr Prendergast, who did not want to disclose details of the premises, said the group had until February 1 to solve the accommodation problem, though security was needed much sooner.

"There has to come a time where all hostel parents have surety over where their daughters are going to be next February.

"We're very hopeful but we're also realistic that at some time we've got to present a plan that is viable."

Euphrasie House manager Kris Burbery said an Auckland man whose sisters had attended the school had offered his commercial building in town for lease, an option which would also be investigated.

Mr Prendergast said support for the parents and the hostel boarders had been overwhelming.

"The support is coming from old girls, ex-staff, people who have been associated with the hostel and college for a long time.

"Everybody is in support of what we are trying to do but nobody has given us the winning Lotto ticket yet."

- NZ Herald

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