James Shaw attempted to claw back the $11.7 million he gave to Taranaki's Green School after a backlash from party members and from teachers and parents from other schools.
But he can't - and the best he can hope for is that at least part of the grant ends up as a loan.
"I certainly talked [to my ministerial colleagues] about whether they wanted to," Shaw told Newshub.
But it was too late - it's out of ministers' hands at Crown Infrastructure Partners.
It's now up to officials to negotiate splitting the grant into a loan to the private school instead.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters describing the attempt to undo the damage "a serious tribute to inexperience."
But loan or payout, it's angering school principals, including at Waitara Central School, which needs new classrooms and can't afford to replace its old boiler with heatpumps.
"We're not asking for anything new; we're not asking for new buildings. We just want to fix up what we've got," principal Vickie Kahu-Pukoro says.
Among his litany of apologies today, Shaw had one for those local schools.
"I apologise to the schools of Taranaki who quite rightfully want the best for their children," he said.
It all came to head on Monday after Newshub revealed a self-described 'new age architect', a parent at the school, had plans to plant a crystal grid with the children.
That plan was thwarted by lockdown but the couple did hold a 'DNA activation' and 'bio-energy field cleaning' fundraiser at the school.
Their proposed crystal plan has baffled and bewildered MPs.
"We did not learn that at Walton Primary," National leader Judith Collins told Newshub.
"No one's got any idea what a crystal planting is," Peters added. "Look, as they said in the flower power era, 'far out man'."
Far out alright - and borderline farcical. Shaw admitted today the extent of his due diligence to push for the funding was checking the school's website.