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Auckland kindergarten to be ‘bulldozed’ for car park

Auckland kindergarten to be ‘bulldozed’ for car park

The Ministry of Education is set to ‘bulldoze’ an Auckland kindergarten with a roll of 90 and a waiting list of 160, and replace it with a car park.

The Ministry of Education has stunned the Pt Chevalier community with an announcement the local kindergarten has a year to vacate the land it occupies on a corner section of Pt Chevalier School.

The Pt Chevalier School Board, it is reported, wants the land to build a car park, and is unwilling to alter its plans.

The kindergarten has existed since the 1930s, and at its current site since 1984.

The proposed eviction, since becoming known late last week, has aroused incredulity and anger in the Pt Chevalier community, spawned the creation of a parent-led group to save the kindergarten, and the creation of a Facebook page called ‘Save Point Chevalier Kindergarten’.

Auckland Kindergarten Association General Manager Tanya Harvey said today (Tuesday 9 August) that the destruction of a kindergarten to build a car park was so bizarre some in Pt Chevalier had not believed what they were hearing.

Many hoping to enroll children next year had been ‘absolutely gobsmacked’ when told that a car park was going to replace their access to kindergarten, she said. And a Pt Chevalier community meeting the Ministry of Education was planning for 23 August was likely to be ‘an intense encounter’.

Ms Harvey said the Auckland Kindergarten Association, which owns the Pt Chevalier Kindergarten, had been asked and would be supporting Pt Chevalier parents in their efforts to save the kindergarten.

‘We will ask the Ministry of Education if it really thinks a car park more important than a kindergarten.

‘We will ask the school to reconsider converting its swimming pool to a car park in order to allow the kindergarten to survive. We will ask them if they think a swimming pool is more important than the early childhood education of thousands of children over the coming years.

‘We will ask the Ministry to redouble its efforts to find an alternative local site for the kindergarten.

‘And we will ask the Auckland Council and Mayor Len Brown if they might find a ‘creative solution’ that would allow the school to meet parking regulations without having to build a carpark on the kindergarten site.’

The suddenness of the eviction suggested a ‘lack of recognition for the importance of early childhood education’, Ms Harvey said.

‘They’ve given us only a year to get out, and left local families, many on our waiting lists for years, with nowhere to go.’

Ms Harvey said the school board was arguing that ‘demographic pressure’ gave it no choice but to evict the kindergarten. But the same demographic pressure on the school was also on the kindergarten and the 160 children on its waiting list, and the school’s preparedness to close the kindergarten seemed ‘out of touch’.

Ms Harvey said the kindergarten had ‘a long list of questions for both the Ministry of Education and the school’. These included: • Why do you think a car park is of more value to the community than a kindergarten? • Why do you think the school swimming pool is more important to the community than early childhood education for thousands of children? • When did the school first discuss the idea of demolishing the kindergarten to build a car park? • When did the Ministry of Education first know of the plans? • Why was the kindergarten not told of the plans until only a year before they were to be implemented?

Local land was very expensive, Ms Harvey said. And if the Ministry of Education evicted the kindergarten, the only hope would be a ‘white knight’, someone with an affordable site in the area to which the kindergarten might move. But such an outcome seemed ‘unlikely’ at this stage.

A community group would be meeting at Pt Chevalier Kindergarten on 16 August at 7.30pm to plan action prior to the Ministry of Education’s public meeting on 23 August, Ms Harvey said.

ENDS

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