Plans already underway to reopen Hato Petera college

A group made-up of former board of trustees members, ex-students and iwi say they already have plans to reopen Auckland's Hato Petera College after its closure on Friday by the Ministry of Education.

The North Shore school, which was founded in 1928, will be closed after the Ministry of Education said it could no longer provide a "quality of education" for a dwindling roll.

"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," said Education Minister Chris Hipkins on Friday.

The school's roll had been fluctuating between one and five students for the past year, down from 50 students in 2016 and 245 students at its peak.

In 2016, the school's boarding house was also closed for health and safety reasons.

The Catholic Church agrees with the Government that the roll was the reason for the school's demise, noting the school wasn't the secondary school of choice for Catholic Māori within the Catholic Diocese of Auckland.

But representatives from the school disagree and said they've had 50 people express interest over the past months.

Ratahi Tipene Tomuri, a former student of the school, said: "Five were able to come into the school [but] 45 were disqualified because they weren't Catholic."

The group will be presenting a plan to the Catholic Diocese and one suggestion is to up the number of non-Catholics who are allowed to attend the school from 5 percent to 40 percent. 

A hui was staged there on Saturday, with leaders pointing out the difference in its condition compared to that of the likes of Sacred Heart and St Peters.

Former chair of the board of trustees Mate Webb said the school had been neglected, with the buildings in the same state they were when he attended the school in the 1970s. He said the school hadn't received the changes that other schools had in the past few decades.

The Catholic Diocese of Auckland said it was not invited to the hui on Saturday, but the Deed of Grant made in 1850 outlined the land will be used to support the education of children of both races, not just Māori. It said it intended to honour that deed.

It was investigating letting another school use its facilities or establishing a new academy on the site.

The group said they wanted to work with the Church and reopen the school, and hoped to meet with the Diocese to discuss their plans in the coming weeks.