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Minister to visit site of school arson

Hon Chris Carter

Minister of Education


25 March 2008 Media Statement
Minister to visit site of school arson


The Minister of Education, Chris Carter, says he will visit the site of the serious fire at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Taumarere in Northland tomorrow.

Over the weekend five classrooms were destroyed at a Maori immersion school, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Taumarere, in Moerewa. Only four classrooms were saved.

“This iconic school has stood for 97 years and this disgraceful act of arson has resulted in a huge loss to the Moerewa community,” Chris Carter said.

Chris Carter will visit the Kura tomorrow to meet with the Principal, members of the board, local kaumatua and community members. The meeting will form part of a previously scheduled visit to Whangarei.

The Minister will be assuring the Board that the Ministry of Education will be providing them with all the necessities they will need to get the school up and running again as soon as possible.

“I have instructed the Ministry to provide immediate assistance to the Kura, meanwhile I am delighted to see that the local community are already gearing up to provide additional support to the school by donating stationery and other items,” said Chris Carter.

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Taumarere had no sprinkler system installed which meant that the fire spread quickly through the century old buildings.

It is mandatory for sprinklers to be installed in all new schools and those having major upgrades. However, the Ministry’s 2005 Building Guidelines encourage the use of sprinklers in all schools. Operations budgets are resourced to provide for maintenance issues such as sprinklers. A number of schools have installed them through that funding opportunity.

However Chris Carter is keen to see all schools safe from fire. He has requested that Ministry officials provide a report on how expensive it would be to pay for sprinklers to be installed in all schools that currently do not have them.

The Minister was pleased to note that there had been a significant decline in damage caused by arson. In 1989 the Ministry of Education spent $15.8m on arson repairs. Last year the total cost was $2.5m.


ENDS

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