Schooling issue takes over meeting

By Sophie Price

5 comments
Iain Maxwell (left), from Hawke's Bay Regional Council, and Michael Whittaker from Te Mata Mushrooms, at last night's meeting. Photo / Warren Buckland
Iain Maxwell (left), from Hawke's Bay Regional Council, and Michael Whittaker from Te Mata Mushrooms, at last night's meeting. Photo / Warren Buckland

The mushroom farm may have been the focus of last night's public meeting but it was a new school for Havelock North that caused the biggest stink.

More than 400 people spilled out of the village's Community Centre - all there for a meeting called by Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule. He along with Te Mata Mushrooms' Mike Whittaker and Iain Maxwell from the Hawke's Bay Regional Council presented to the crowd.

Initial questions centred on the odour issues and what was being done to address them.

While the forum was held to address these issues in Arataki, Mr Yule relinquished the floor at the end so the education issues could be aired.

Mr Yule said, with 800 new houses being the projected growth for the village, the area was not going to cope with the current schooling arrangements.

He said where a school goes and in what time frame was something that had to be determined with the community.

Representatives for the pro-school group School for Havelock North then took to the floor and asked Mr Yule if he was willing to take a mandate from the room. "Ask for a show of hands, as for a show of support that shows this is what we need from you today," group member Anna Lorck asked.

Mr Yule asked people to raise their hand if they wanted the council to consider a new school as part of the future of planning of Havelock North. The resounding yes from the crowd was shown by what can only be described as a visually unanimous decision.

Mr Yule said, the council was effectively doing what was asked already, but that it was a "pretty clear mandate".

Director of Education for Hawke's Bay Marilyn Scott said the Ministry could handle the education needs for Havelock North for the next 3-5 years' worth of roll growth.

"But today as I stand here right now I can tell you on the numbers we have we do not need to be putting a new school ... into Havelock North right now. Please listen when I say that doesn't mean not ever, it just means right now," she said.

Shona West also spoke to the crowd about the proposed kura kaupapa, but was met with a cold reception and people walking out during her time at the microphone.

Mr Yule said before anything could happen, the issues surrounding the mushroom farm need to be resolved. That was something the crowd also wanted.

Mr Whittaker was committed to addressing the issue and said the company had spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars mitigating the odour.

There was nothing more they could do unless Te Mata Mushrooms was allowed to grow and expand on the site, he said.

There was crowd support for the 48-year-old company that employs 120 people fulltime, with one questioner saying that he cannot help but express "sympathy" to the business, which now found itself in a "quandary".

Mr Yule said the meeting was the start of a way to work with the community over the next few months so the company and the community can co-exist.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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