Rotorua's only partnership school has applied to become a designated character school.

If approved, changes will be afoot for the iwi-led school which was 12 years in the making.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed this week all of the country's existing charter schools had applied to become state schools.

Ten had applied to become designated character and two had applied to become state integrated schools.


Te Rangihakahaka Centre for Science and Technology is a Ngāti Whakaue-run school which opened at the start of the year.

Roanna Bennett of Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho-Ake Trust says the school has applied to be a designated character school. Photo/File
Roanna Bennett of Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Iho-Ake Trust says the school has applied to be a designated character school. Photo/File

Te Taumata o Ngāti Whakaue Iho-Ake Trust general manager Roana Bennett said the school had applied to be a designated character school.

Bennett said, if the application was approved, there would be little change from the point of view of students.

If the school becomes a designated character school ownership will be moved from Ngāti Whakaue to the state. However, the school has put forward a governance model for consideration.

"We hope we'll have a major influence on what happens in the school but it will be going into a board of trustees arrangement like other state schools," Bennett said.

"We are iwi. Governments come and go, policies come and go, but we'll still be there meeting our obligations to our tamariki and their whānau."

If approved the key changes would mean a change of ownership, a loss of flexibility around teaching and a loss of flexibility around funding, Bennett said.

"The gains though are quite interesting. We will be financially better off because as a partnership school we are funded less, under designated character we'll be funded the same as an equally sized school," she said.


"At the end of the day we're being pragmatic about it. We want our school to stay open."

The school's director, Renee Gillies, said she wanted to retain "the essence" of Te Rangihakahaka.

The Ministry of Education is now taking time to consult on and assess applications and will report to the education minister by the end of June.

Hipkins expected to make decisions on the applications by the end of July.

The Ministry of Education's deputy secretary of sector enablement and support, Katrina Casey, said the applications would be considered against the requirements of the Education Act.

The ministry will consider if the proposal meets the requirements of a designated character school and if there is demand for that type of schooling.

It looks at how the character is reflected in all aspects of the school, the school property, the potential impact the establishment might have, the cost to the crown and more.

Hipkins has also reconvened an advisory group to monitor schools' performances while they are still charter schools.

The group replaces an authorisation board led by former Act Party president Catherine Isaac which resigned en masse in February.

Hipkins introduced the Education Amendment Bill, spelling the end of charter schools, in February.

He wanted existing charter schools to wind up before the end of their contracts by mutual agreement but if early termination was not agreed by both parties he reserved the right to issue a notice of "termination for convenience" by the middle of this month.