Criticism follows scrapping of Kura relocation plan

By Victoria White

14 comments
Te Mata Mushrooms director Michael Whittaker says the farm has a way of finding itself in the middle of arguments.
Te Mata Mushrooms director Michael Whittaker says the farm has a way of finding itself in the middle of arguments.

Criticism is unfurling in the wake of the announcement that a contested Havelock North site will not hold any type of educational facility.

On Thursday the Ministry of Education announced the controversial relocation of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Wananga Whare Tapere o Takitimu to the former site of the Arataki Motor Camp would not go ahead.

An environmental evaluation found the site was not suitable for the kura as it was affected by odour emissions from the nearby Te Mata Mushrooms operation.

Although Te Mata Mushrooms owner Michael Whittaker said he had not received any criticism personally on the announcement, "Te Mata [Mushrooms] will find itself in the middle of every debate".

Given the length of time the company had occupied the site, he said there
should be "no surprise" around odour issues as the Hastings District Council had commissioned a number of independent reports which all pointed to the need for separation.

"At the end of the day, the Ministry of Education has taken that into account and made their decision," he said.

If there had been other reasons behind the decision, those were the Ministry's alone, as the odour issue was well known.

"Te Mata mushrooms is in the middle of every controversial issue in Havelock North at the moment," he said, citing criticism they had received around the rezoning of residential land, recent water contamination, and the Kura.

"At the end of the day, Te Mata Mushrooms has been here for 49 years."

With the Arataki Rd site now considered to be unsuitable for educational purposes, Labour Tukituki candidate Anna Lorck has called on incumbent MP Craig Foss to "acknowledge the role he played in losing Havelock North's new promised primary school".

"It never needed to happen like this, he should not have been 'on the hop' from the beginning," she said. "The local communities should have been consulted with first. But deals were done behind closed doors and then forced through."

Ms Lorck said Mr Foss effectively took away the suburb's opportunity for a new primary school to meet local needs when he announced a compensation package of eight portable classrooms for the area.

"Right when his community needed him most, he chose not to support a new promised primary school.

"While schools will always be grateful for new infrastructure to relieve their bursting rolls, I don't think anyone will forget that this [was] done to remove the proven need for a promised primary school."

However Mr Foss said Ms Lorck only had negative things to say.

"Eight new classrooms, as announced by the Minister of Education, is great news for our schools," he said. "I've said from the very beginning that if a new school is needed then planning will begin".

He noted "the candidate" only had negative things to say about this week's $19 million investment in Flaxmere schools, adding the Government had now announced a total of $32 million in additional funding for our local schools.

"I've always backed the Bay and will continue to strongly advocate for our community to ensure we get the right school, in the right place, at the right time."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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