A new Maori education centre planned for the site of Havelock North's Arataki Motor Camp will cater for up to 180 students, the Ministry of Education says.

The kura kaupapa will be open to students from Year 1 through to Year 13 if an application from an existing Hastings primary school to expand into secondary education is approved.

Plans for the Arataki site, which the ministry has owned for several years, have been the subject of speculation and political debate since a government announcement last month that a new kura was planned for Hastings.

The announcement was news to Tukituki National MP Craig Foss who said this month ministry officials had dropped the ball by not briefing him on details of the proposal.


Labour's Ikaroa Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri and the party's Tukituki spokeswoman Anna Lorck have called for more detail on the scheme to be released. Mr Foss' office this week referred queries about the kura to Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye.

Ms Kaye's office said yesterday limited space and growing demand for enrolments at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Wananga Whare Tapere o Takitimu in Hastings meant the school needed to relocate from its present leased site to a permanent location capable of accommodating growth and plans to expand to teaching Years 1-13.

"The kura has applied for a change of class (from Year 1-8 to Year 1-13) and this application is currently being processed by the ministry," a spokeswoman said.

"Since its formation in the mid-1990s, the kura has grown from an initial roll of around 10 students to its current roll of over 60 students. The new capacity is likely to be 180."

Ms Whaitiri has questioned the transport costs associated with relocating the kura to Havelock North.

"There are students currently enrolled at the kura that come from the eastern side of Hastings and the Ministry expects enrolments from this area to continue," Ms Kaye's spokeswoman said.

"Students who are close enough to the kura will walk (or fund their own transport), and school transport will be provided under ministry policy for students who are eligible for this. This is the policy for all kura."

Concerns have been raised about a lack of consultation on the ministry's plans for the Arataki site.


The spokeswoman said there was no provision under the Education Act to consult with other schools when an existing school moves to a new site.

The plans had been a "budget secret and the ministry was not in a position to advise other schools of the intended relocation ahead of the announcement".

However, schools whose rolls may be affected by the proposed change of class to Year 1-13 had been consulted.

"The kura affiliates to Ngati Kahungunu, and the iwi has been involved throughout this process.

"The ministry and the board of trustees of the kura will keep the community informed throughout the design and construction process."

Ms Lorck said the Arataki site was acquired to cater for an increasing primary school population and the latest details from the ministry left questions about its plans unanswered.

-Tawehi Munro is chairman of Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Wananga Whare Tapere o Takitimu, not the wananga as reported yesterday.