Waipareira Trust head calls Govt model an “unworkable mirage’.

The Government's charter school model has been branded "an unworkable mirage" by former MP John Tamihere, after he pulled the plug on a proposed bilingual West Auckland school.

The Te Whnau O Waipareira Trust, headed by Tamihere, was on the verge of announcing a new partnership school with the Ministry of Education, with 100 children already signed up to enrol.

The trust was ready to invest $250,000 into the kura which would have opened next year in Henderson.

However, Tamihere said he had decided to pull out of the deal following the "hardened stance" by the Ministry of Education, Education Minister Hekia Parata, and Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education David Seymour during contract negotiations.


Describing the 47-page contract as "extraordinarily prescriptive", Tamihere said the partnership model was not the promise the Government made it out to be.

"The promise of us being able to run a permissive model, of being able to import all sorts of tutors and lecturers out of the large range of tertiary institutions around Auckland who were willing to give up their time for these kids, but never had a school open for them to actually start to engage with, the promise of us bringing in a whole bunch of our own role models to run a session - I thought we had a wonderful model there, but they weren't prepared," he said.

"All of us [charter schools] have to be the same."

Waipareira Trust was one of three organisations to have a proposal for a new charter school reach the final negotiation stages, from 26 applications to the ministry in the latest round of expressions of interest.

In final negotiations with the ministry, the trust requested two amendments to the contract, Tamihere said - that the minister's powers be applied reasonably and an acknowledgement that Waipareira Trust has Treaty of Waitangi status when dealing with the Crown.

The latter request was to reflect what was already written into law, he said, but the ministers and ministry "weren't prepared to accept that".

The refusal prompted Tamihere to pull the trust's application from the process.

"I'm not prepared to surrender the mana of a community to the mana of a bureaucracy in Wellington," Tamihere said.


However, Tamihere said the trust would not drop its desire to form a new school in West Auckland.

"We just have to wait to make more money off our commercial operations, and we'll just fund our own school. We just don't need this nonsense."

Partnership School Minister and Act Party leader Seymour said Waipareira Trust was offered the same conditions as all organisations wishing to establish a charter school.

He described as unfortunate that the trust boss had introduced his Treaty status request "at a late stage in the contract negotiations".

The Government had refused his amendments because it risked entering into "a contract with a lot of implications that may not be known".