A police investigation into an assault allegation at a prestigious Hawke's Bay school has ended with no charges being laid.

Te Aute School has also acknowledged that several complaints were made to the school management directly, and dealt with.

However, the college is continuing to face scrutiny over its Board of Trustees' performance and a request from Te Aute Trust Board that the Ministry of Education step in to help with governance issues.

Te Aute Trust Board chair Archbishop Don Tamihere said the latter scrutiny was "directly related to how the Board of Trustees was currently functioning and not recent complaints".


The Te Aute Trust board is separate to the school's board of trustees and is the proprietor of Te Aute College and responsible for the endowments it was established with, and the management and running of the school's hostel.

Hawke's Bay Today understands several assault complaints were made surrounding the treatment of boarders in Term 2 and 3 at Te Aute College.

At least one parent has withdrawn their child from the school over the allegations.
Most of the complaints were made direct to the school, with one made to police, who have investigated and concluded they would not prosecute.

Shane Hiha, principal, Te Aute College, Central Hawke's Bay.
Shane Hiha, principal, Te Aute College, Central Hawke's Bay.

Te Aute College Principal Shane Hiha said any complaints raised with him had been dealt with via board policy, some with the involvement of the Ministry of Education and in one instance the police.

In that instance, the police had advised they would be recommending no action was required.

Archbishop Tamihere acknowledged complaints have been made about the hostel but said it was "not appropriate" to talk about individual cases.

"When they had come to light, they had been dealt with appropriately.''

He confirmed earlier this week that the board had requested assistance from the Ministry of Education over "increasing concern about the Board of Trustees' recent performance".


Archbishop Tamihere said the Principal and the Kaihautu of the hostel "retained the confidence of the Trust Board".

"In that regard, it was the board's expectation that everyone in a leadership role or position of responsibility in the school should always act in the best interests of the students and their education and wellbeing," he said.

The Te Aute Trust Board said it took any issues raised, or complaints made, regarding the school, its hostel or its students "extremely seriously", he said.

Ministry of Education Deputy Secretary Sector Enablement and Support, Katrina Casey said the school is "facing some challenges in both governance and the hostel".

They were advised in August by the school that a complaint had been laid by a parent.

Since then, Casey said they had been in regular contact with the school and the Te Aute Trust Board to "ensure they comply with Hostel Regulations including assurance around complaints processes".

"We will continue to monitor their compliance and work with them to strengthen internal processes and systems."

While no commissioner has been approved or appointed, she said they were discussing the issues with both the School Proprietor and its Board of Trustees to assess whether an intervention is needed.

A source, who did not want to be named, said school management had tried to keep the assault allegations "in house", but one parent refused and had gone to police.

"The point was made that the principal and the dorm manager didn't want anything to do with it outside of the school, but enough pressure was put on that police had to investigate it once they found out there were other boys involved."