Parents of pupils who attend an Auckland school contaminated with asbestos are pulling their kids out of the school.

Adam Brooker has two children at Hobsonville Primary School but has already enrolled them at nearby West Harbour Primary.

"Come Monday they're at a new school," he said.

However, school board chair Lance Norman said that the parents of children who decide to temporarily remove them, making them miss five or more days, could face prosecution by the Ministry of Education under the Education Act 1989.


The asbestos was found amongst a 700 tonne section of soil during construction for a new drop-off zone for parents in October. Tools were downed straight away and the soil sent away for testing.

Norman said they didn't get the results confirming the toxic presence until January and work was to begin in early February for its removal.

However, many parents have been left angered that it will take place while the kids will be at the school and not during the school holidays. Norman said they simply can't wait and leave the asbestos in situ as it caused a serious health and safety issue.

Brooker said if the excavation was carried out during the holiday period they wouldn't bother, but he doesn't want his 8-year-old daughter or 6-year-old son at risk of contamination.

"We could definitely keep the kids out for one week, maybe two, but three weeks, no. We made a decision as a family if it was all going to be [removed] during school time we'd get them out. I will not be putting my kids at risk."

Brooker said the asbestos had been in situ since about October with barely any fencing and no signage. He didn't realise the severity of the matter until he was contacted by another parent last month.

"It's been there for months and they didn't even have signs up until we took them to task. I didn't even know it was asbestos. The only clue to me was that 20m exclusion zone which is a joke."

When informed parents were either pulling their children from the school permanently or temporarily, Norman said that was "disappointing".


"That's disappointing because if they were to look at all the information made available to them, the risk is low."

Norman said they were obliged under the Act to report the children who fail to turn up to the Ministry who in turn could prosecute parents.

He said there was misinformation being circulated that all of the asbestos was the toxic kind, when in fact tests and information from their specialist had confirmed that the asbestos was non-friable, while there hadn't been any friable material found at the scene.

As for whether the removal will still go ahead on Monday, Norman said they hadn't received any information for the school to think otherwise.

"Its all going ahead. It's being cleaned and set up all this week because there's nothing that's come to our attention that actually tells us that we should stop it based on the information that we've received.

"We're at the will of the Ministry of Education, the development company, the 90 per cent of the parents who want us to please get rid of it asap."

He said the school had been receiving a large amount of support from parents who were too scared to speak out publicly due to risk of being bullied on social media.

LeaAnn Case has an 11-year-old daughter at the school. However, she was unaware the issue was that serious until it blew up in the media on Wednesday.

Now, she and partner Birgit Andres are planning on pulling her out of the school for however it long it takes for the asbestos to be removed.

"Our plan, as of now and I hate to say it, but is to not send her on Monday. But if it turns into a long term thing or a few days we have no idea how we're going to manage it . . . there is no 'safe' asbestos, any type of asbestos is dangerous so the risk is too high."

Another parent, who declined to be named, said she's "livid" with the school and has also told the school her two daughters won't be attending while the asbestos is being taken out.

However, parent Anna Potts is happy for her two children to remain at school while the asbestos is being removed and praised principal Anne Leitch for getting it sorted so quickly.

"I think it is verging on the ridiculous to remove children from their valued education, or even worse, uproot them from the school they are settled in, because of a negligible risk of asbestos poisoning.

"As far as I am concerned they have more risk of accidentally falling out the side door of a commercial airliner, than having any negative side effects from the removal of the asbestos materials."

She said she was confident that the school board would not be going ahead with the job if there was any risk to children's health.

"I applaud the school in standing their ground, and getting on with the job as soon as possible."

But another parent, who didn't wish to be named, was aghast the school expected parents to give them consent while not guaranteeing there was no risk.

"Why? Because there is a risk. Even a minute one is enough for me to say no. I will not expose my children to something I don't have to."

Parent Sarah Smith will advise Leitch today of her intentions to remove her daughter from the school while the work gets underway.

"I, like many others, are appalled at the asbestos contaminated soil being removed whilst students and faculty are present."

More than 200 people had since signed a petition on to try and stop the excavation from taking place.

"Many parents including myself intend to keep their children home next week. I will be advising Anne Leitch [principal] of my intent today."

Manuel Amberg's 8-year-old son sits in a classroom near the toxic site and is concerned for his safety.

"The sad fact of asbestos is that a single fibre inhaled can lead to lung cancer and by going ahead the school and the Ministry of Education take this risk.

"To even consider risking the wellbeing of a child or someone downwind for a carpark is beyond me and looks a rather cynical thing to do."

He believed holding off the works until the holidays was a more "logical and responsible action".

David Wilson has two nephews who will also be staying away.

"I know of at least 20 other children who will also be staying at home - the obvious solution is to stabilise it now and remove it in July when the school is empty. However, the school refuses to do this. This is an issue of real concern to all the families I know who have kids there."

An unnamed "concerned parent" also wants the majority of the work to be carried out during the school holidays so parents can get a gauge on how well the safety procedures were working.

"This way, no harm to the kids, no days lost at school and everyone is happy. We aren't asking for it to be held off forever."