The future of a Catholic Maori high school with only one pupil has been put in doubt after a collapse in student numbers.

Co-educational Hato Petera College at Northcote on Auckland's North Shore has struggled to attract students and now has just one.

It receives taxpayer money under its status as an integrated school.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today that he and the proprietor of the school, the Catholic Bishop of Auckland, Patrick Dunn, have decided to start a consultation process on the possible cancellation of the integration agreement.


Radio New Zealand reported the school was set to receive $330,000 from the Ministry of Education's operational grant fund for a projected roll of 15 students. But with only one student, the funding would reduce to about $200,000. Teachers' salaries are not paid from those funds.

But, the only student left, Stephanie Pomare, is fighting to keep the school open.

Thousands of people had offered to support Pomare in her bid to personally take her message to the Minister of Education to keep her school open, a spokesman said.

She would also send a letter to the Vatican to ask for support to keep the school open. The land Hato Petera College stands on belongs to the Auckland diocese under the Catholic Bishop.

Catholic Bishop of Auckland Patrick Dunn admitted the consultation process "could ultimately result in the closure of the school".

He said the 2017 roll had been predicted to be 36 students, but by July 2017 it had dropped to just 14.

Hato Petera College started the 2018 school year with five students, but it had now dropped to one.

"Consequently there are serious concerns about the school's ability to deliver the requirements of the curriculum, financial viability, low levels of student achievement, lack of extracurricular opportunities in sport, cultural activities and the ability to maintain the required breadth and depth of Catholic teachings and practices."


Dunn said the schools hadn't been the secondary school of choice for Catholic Maori for a while.

"Past students have also chosen not to send their children and grandchildren to Hato Petera College.

"Catholic Maori are increasingly choosing the other 15 Catholic secondary schools within the Auckland Diocese as their preferred option for Catholic secondary education, with over 1100 Maori students enrolled at these schools on July 1 2017.

"The Catholic Diocese of Auckland is confident that these 15 schools are committed to providing a quality secondary Catholic education for Catholic Maori as Catholic Maori."

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the school had played an important part in the lives of many students and whanau.

"Earlier this year, a commissioner was appointed to take over the governance of the college.

"With only one student currently in attendance, the commissioner has raised concerns about the sustainability of the school. He is supportive of the decision that the … bishop … and I have now taken to initiate the consultation process.

"I acknowledge that this is an uncertain time for the student currently attending Hato Petera, her whānau and the community. But the role of Maori boarding schools has changed over the years.

"Despite the extensive work of the commissioner, previous boards of trustees, teaching staff and the community, concerns about the college's finances, human resourcing, curriculum and its low student numbers remain.

"There was a consultation process about the future of the college held in 2016, but the situation at the school has now changed and it is time to listen again to what the whanau and the [Auckland Catholic] diocese want for the college.

The consultation process will run until May 14, after which the ministry will summarise the information received.

"Once I've had a chance to consider the feedback, a decision will be made about the cancellation of the college's integration agreement," Hipkins said.