"Zoning figures manipulated says councillor."
This heading needs to be expanded with some further explanation.
It is important to say that I am very supportive of a new kura being built and TKK Takitimu are thoroughly deserving of new buildings on a new site.
In no way is the current situation any fault of TKK Takitimu. This ill-informed decision in regards to the location some 8km away from their current site by the Minister of Education will have an impact on them for years to come.
My concerns are based on the complete lack of consultation in regards to the location with either party prior to the announcement being made in April, and the way the ministry have misled the local community.
If proper consultation had occurred then both communities would be embracing and celebrating the final outcome. The selected site for a kura has no sense of community interest, connection or relativity for the pupils who will attend or their whanau.
Let's take a step back in time.
In July 2010 an application for resource consent was made to Hastings District Council by the Minister of Education to designate land for education purposes to meet the future needs of Havelock North.
The case by the ministry stated that a new primary school would be required in the area because the local primary schools combined numbers would exceed 1400 pupils. They counted all pupils on the school rolls.
Fast forward to 2015 and the combined number of local primary school pupils has now exceeded 1400 and sits between 1400 and 1500.
But the ministry now claim that approximately 220 of these pupils are out of zone so we are only talking about approximately 1200 eligible pupils.
The majority of these 220 pupils actually live in Havelock North and the only reason they are out of zone is because the Ministry of Education has manipulated and changed the zones of the schools to suit their needs.
See the twist and the manipulation? When the Ministry of Education wanted higher numbers for resource consent back in 2010 they counted all pupils attending the three local Havelock North primary schools. In 2015 they only counted those who live in zone.
The only reason TTK Takitimu was allocated the Arataki site is that it was the only site the Ministry of Education owned on the eastern side of Hastings. I believe if they had owned a suitable site in any one of the following areas: Copeland Rd, Murdoch Rd East or Collinge Rd - that would have been the allocated location.
The next twist is when submissions from the public were called for back in 2010. The case that was presented was on the basis of the land being made available for an early childhood centre and a primary school to meet the needs of the local community. There was absolutely no mention of secondary or adult education.
The Minister of Education has completely mislead the general public and the hearings committee of the Hastings District Council by now using the site for a completely different purpose from that of its original intention.
Now that the original intentions have been changed there is a requirement to seek a review and call for further submissions and approval from the general public. Currently the whole scenario smacks of dishonesty.
The next area of concern is what happens in Havelock North as the school rolls continue to grow and the property development expands if the site that was identified as being ideal for a primary school is no longer available? Overcrowded schools goes beyond an Arataki issue. This is an issue for the entire Havelock North community.
1) The Ministry of Education has informed locals that there is enough space at Havelock North Primary School for up to another eight classrooms. Seven hundred or more pupils on that site is an interesting scenario. Both the Lucknow and the Te Mata school sites are at, or near, capacity thus Havelock North is really the only option.
2) School zoning will be further tightened and younger siblings could well have to attend a different primary school to their older siblings.
3) In the future if there is even greater demand the ministry would have to purchase another site in another new development. This is fiscally irresponsible when they already have a suitable site. Everyone will suffer in the meantime.
In summary, both communities are dealing with a Minister of Education (a list MP) who is stubborn and is determined to bulldoze through and justify a very poor decision. We also have a local MP who has publicly remained completely silent throughout the entire debate. I have often wondered why.
This current decision, made by one person, will have an everlasting impact on both communities. Everyone deserves better.
-Malcolm Dixon is a Hastings District councillor.
-Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org