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Small School in Cental North Island not Re-opening


3 October 2001 Media Statement

Small School in Cental North Island not being
Re-opened

The Government has decided not to re-establish the small Mokai School in the central North Island.

Education Minister Trevor Mallard said the Government rejected an application made by community members to re-establish the school. He said that after much consideration it was clear that maintaining a school in the Mokai community was just not viable in current circumstances.

Mokai School was closed in October 1999, after its roll declined to seven. Prior to that, the Education Review Office had outlined ongoing governance and management non-compliance problems during its visits to the school.

However, the Waitangi Tribunal later recommended that the school should be re-opened, because it considered the education of the local children was important to the tino rangatiratanga of the Mokai community.

In accordance with the Waitangi Tribunal’s wishes, the Ministry of Education provided assistance to help the Mokai community to prepare its application for the establishment of a designated character school.

Trevor Mallard said he had taken great care in his consideration of the application for the establishment of Te Wananga O Mokai, including visits to see the remote settlement to meet with the applicants.

“Decisions like this can be difficult and I know some people will be disappointed. In this case there are too many critical factors which would have impacted on the viability of the school.

“Not only was the sustainability of the roll in question, but the establishment of Te Wananga O Mokai would certainly have had a knock-on effect on sustainability of the network of schools currently serving the district.

“Before I establish any new school, I am required to consult with the boards of all state schools whose rolls might be affected.

“In this case, the school would have drawn students from the surrounding district, which is already served by Mangakino Area School, Marotiri School, Tirohanga School, Upper Atiamuri School and Whakamaru School.

“All of these schools generally supported the vision of the Mokai whanau, but three of them were very concerned about losing students from their own rolls.
Mangakino Area School in particular was looking at losing 15-20 percent of its year one to eight students.

“In addition to that, the full cost of transporting children to school in Mokai could not be met by the school transport funding entitlement, and also it was very likely that the capability of the nominated establishment board would require ongoing support from the Crown.”

Trevor Mallard said he was aware of initiatives in Mokai for improved housing, health and employment. With this in mind, he was encouraging the whanau to consider establishing a kohanga reo which could form the basis for any future educational developments in the community.

ENDS

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