Ministry of Education to close Auckland's Hato Petera College

The Ministry of Education has confirmed Auckland's Hato Petera College will be closed. 

Education Minister Chris Hipkins made the announcement on Friday, saying despite all efforts to find a way of keeping the North Shore school going, "the reality is that it is no longer able to provide a quality of education". 

"The cancellation of the integration agreement for Hato Petera is in mutual agreement with the Proprietor, the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Auckland," he said of the school which has a strong Catholic and Māori character.

The college was Auckland's last remaining Māori boarding school with 245 students at its peak, but its boarding hostel was closed by the Ministry of Education in 2016 based on health and safety concerns. 

The school's roll dropped to just one student earlier this year.

Mr Hipkins said it's "never an easy decision" closing down a school. But the school's roll has "fluctuated between one and five [students] this year, down from around 20 last year and just under 50 in 2016."

He said there are "limited opportunities for the students to have social interaction with peers," adding the classroom environment is "lonely despite the best intentions of the staff."

In the 1990s between 100 and 200 students attended the school. But the school has declined over recent years, and the results of a consultation have confirmed the minister's view that the school should be closed. 

"The Hato Petera College that exists today is much diminished from the school it was in the past," he said. "Today's announcement, while sad for those involved, will end a period of uncertainty for students and staff."

Mr Hipkins said the Ministry of Education will provide assistance as needed to help the remaining students enrol at other schools. 

Hato Petera College has a history and tradition of supporting Māori through providing "quality" education. But in recent years Catholic Māori students have chosen to enrol in other Catholic colleges, according to the ministry. 

The Diocese which owns the land told Mr Hipkins they would "like it to continue to be used for educational purposes consistent with the original deed of gift from the Crown."

"It is now for them to discuss the next steps with the Ministry of Education."

The college was established in 1928 as a private school, becoming a state integrated school in 1981.