Troubled Auckland Maori school Hato Petera has made the "painful" decision to close its junior boarding facility, saying it could no longer provide a supportive environment.
The tiny Catholic school, in Northcote, says it hopes at least some of its Year 9 and 10 students may be able to continue to attend as day pupils until the end of the year. Around 55 juniors were on the roll, according to the Ministry of Education.
Whanau Trust Board chair Lance O'Sullivan said the closure was temporary, and a comprehensive review of the boarding facility was ongoing, working to address financial issues and the school's current hostel model.
"[The] priority is for the hostel accommodation to provide an environment that ensures the safety and wellbeing of the students and enables good educational outcomes," a statement read.
"After a continuing and comprehensive review of the current situation the Board have decided that it is untenable for the Trust to continue to provide the supportive environment that is required. Some of the buildings are cold and draughty and the plumbing is inadequate. Higher levels of specialised staffing are required to ensure the needs of students are adequately met."
The New Zealand Herald has previously reported about issues at the school, including the roll falling below 100, dilapidated buildings, bullying, infighting and a lack of confidence from its owner, the Catholic Church.
Two recent bullying incidents -- including one where a child was attacked with a stick -- had involved police, and fears over safety had led to the resignation of a board member, and parents removing children.
The Bishop of Auckland has said he wants to review the Maori boarding model, leading to fears of a full school closure. There are also concerns the church wants to sell off the valuable school land, and a Waitangi land claim complicating relationships in the school community.
New board members were elected in June, including Dr O'Sullivan, a Kaitaia GP. However problems have continued, including the principal being removed from his role on the hostel side of the school, and several other resignations.
Dr O'Sullivan said that he was saddened the board -- which runs the hostel, not the school -- had to come to the decision, which was not taken lightly.
"We acknowledge the challenges this is going to create for some of our families and students," he said.
He said the school was working closely with the Ministry of Education and the Auckland Catholic Diocese to ensure that the transition does not adversely affect the wellbeing and learning of the students.
Hato Petera is the sole remaining Maori boarding school in Auckland and one of only six in the country. Among its past pupils are Ranginui Walker, emeritus professor of Maori studies at Auckland University, All Black Walter Little and the late artist Ralph Hotere, ONZ.
Two other Auckland Maori boarding schools, St Stephen's and Queen Victoria, were closed in the early 2000s.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education proposed to close Turakina Maori Girls' College in Marton due to financial difficulties and a falling roll.