by PETER GRACE
Hato Petera College and Auckland diocese are in the spotlight following the release of a November 5 ERO report on the world’s only co-ed Catholic Maori school.

According to the report, significant issues arise around a Treaty of Waitangi claim, and safety and accommodation concerns.

A Treaty claim from some old boys, relating to the historical Deed of Trust for the property surrounding the school, is said to harm school and diocese relationships.

“There is no clear agreement between the Catholic diocese, Te Whānau o Hato Petera Trust, and the Ministry of Education as to who has the responsibility for the hostel buildings, and the land on which the buildings are situated,” the report states.

There is also uncertainty around the tenure of the lease agreement on the school and the hostel facilities. The diocese has offered a short-term lease extension, which leaves college and hostel boards with uncertainty about the future.

The report also identifies safety and accommodation concerns.

Showers and rooms are below current standards for school hostel accommodation.

An historic building in poor condition and near the hostel could be a potential safety hazard for students and staff in the event of a fire.

In a submission to the Waitangi Tribunal dated November 25, 2014, Francis (Frank) Rawiri, presented a claim on behalf of himself, co-claimant Bobby Newson, and Nga Tauira Tawhito o Hato Petera (Nga Tauira) in connection with claim Wai 1385.

Nga Tauira is a pantribal group, Mr Rawiri says in the submission.

“We are made up of old boys of Hato Petera.”

A brief of evidence presented in June from Nga Tauira stated: “Our Treaty claim concerns the 376 acres awarded in trust by way of a Crown grant to the Catholic Church in 1850, and the subsequent maladministration of that land.”

In the latest submission, Mr Rawiri refers to uncertainty for the school because of the diocese’s failure to renew the hostel lease.

“We are at a crisis point with the future of the school,” the submission says. “If the Wai 1385 claim is not settled the way we would like to settle it, we may as well say goodbye to Hato Petera.”

Mr Rawiri says the Old Boys want to get back at least some of the land that has been lost, as well as having the Crown held to account for wrongs done to Nga Tauira.

Hato Petera College was founded by the Mill Hill Fathers in 1928, before Marist Brothers took over the school in 1946.

Nga Tauira is understood to have about 1200 members. It formed and registered the Nga Tauira Tawhito o Hato Petera Trust Board as a charitable trust on September 2, 2002, to act on behalf of and advocate for the education of Nga Tauira.

NZ Catholic left messages for Mr Newson, the Catholic diocese and Hato Petera College, but had received no comment by press time.

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