Kura move on the cards

By Victoria White

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Controversy has surrounded plans to relocate the kura kaupapa from Hastings to the former Arataki motor camp site in Havelock North. Photo/Paul Taylor
Controversy has surrounded plans to relocate the kura kaupapa from Hastings to the former Arataki motor camp site in Havelock North. Photo/Paul Taylor

The Ministry of Education is expected to announce today that the planned relocation of the kura kaupapa to a site in Havelock North will not go ahead.

Hawke's Bay Today understands Minister for Education Hekia Parata will make an announcement on the Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Wānanga o Whare Tapere o Takitimu today.

Controversy has surrounded plans to relocate the kura kaupapa from its current Hastings location, to the former Arataki motor camp site in Havelock North.

However, residents have argued the site, purchased by the Ministry of Education in 2009, was earmarked for a primary school to cater for the suburb's growing population - not a kura.

Yesterday a spokeswoman for Ms Parata said an announcement would be made by the ministry today, however she could not provide any further information.

When asked if the minister spoke with representatives from the kura during her visit to Hawke's Bay on Tuesday, the spokeswoman confirmed she had.

She could not say any more last night "out of respect for an agreement made with the kura not to discuss anything with outside parties until tomorrow".

Yesterday Labour Tukituki candidate Anna Lorck said the secrecy that had been surrounding the future education landscape in Havelock North was unacceptable.

"While the National Government had wanted to use the land it had promised for a primary school to meet local needs, for other education purposes, the mushroom odour had stopped these plans," she said.

Ms Lorck said she had expected Ms Parata to make the decision on changing the location for the new Kura public during her visit this week.

"While clearly this wasn't something she wanted to openly talk about, there is no need to hold on to this information."

She said with far better processes and full consultation with the kura, she was confident an alternative site would be found.

Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri said she had always supported the kura, and its extension, and would be gutted for them if their plans had been set back.

"It's been a long time coming, and their roll is growing," she said.

The kura required a new site after receiving its official "wharekura status" from Ms Parata, which meant it could expand. The Arataki Rd site would allow room for hundreds more students.

Representatives of the kura had been working with the ministry and "in good faith", and Ms Whaitiri said she hoped if the relocation did not go ahead, a new site and date for relocation needed to be announced.

She also said it was valuable if local Maori mandated MPs were kept informed, irrespective of their party, "given the role they hold on behalf of Maori in the area".

However she said, "that's the way this Government operates, in a shroud of secrecy".

Last night Tukituki MP Craig Foss could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this year the Hastings District Council commissioned a report to assess the recommended separation distances between Havelock North's Te Mata Mushrooms and bordering development or "operational areas".

In the report, Tonkin and Taylor recommended a 600m odour buffer zone from the company - which the planned kura site on Arataki Rd fell within.

Following this, the Ministry of Education commissioned an environmental assessment of the site.

At the time, a representative stated design work was continuing on the kura, but they were starting to explore alternative sites, "as that's the prudent thing to do in this sort of situation".

- Hawkes Bay Today

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