Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Otara deep in debt

By Taroi Black

The principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Otara says her school hasn't been given a fair process by the Ministry of Education (MOE).  The school is facing a huge deficit of $100,000 for outstanding bills and has been seeking financial support since the beginning of this year.

Principal Marama Hune says, “They need to respond urgently because this is impacting on our children’s education.”

Hune says her school has been without the ministry's Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) since February.  The responsibilities of the LSM focus on financial management and employment processes, including statutory interventions which support schools at risk of financial hardship, which ultimately impacts on the student's educational performance.

“We're still waiting for the ministry to provide us a strategy so we can pay for our outstanding bills to the creditors who are knocking on our doors.  We've waited for at least three to four months for an answer.”

Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Otara and Te Rūnanganui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori have contacted the ministry on numerous occasions for help.

The MOE told Te Ao Māori News that they’ve maintained regular communication with the kura, the board of trustees and the appointed statutory provider as recently as June 6th. 

“I haven't seen anything," says Hune, "It's hard to know who to contact, sometimes they haven't responded back to us. Despite that, our school is still standing, our Piripono whānau will persevere for the betterment of our children.”

MOE funds the school annually to the tune of$260,000: 

  • $80,000 goes toward paying support staff.
  • $40,000 for LSM.
  • Over a $100,000 is put into school resources.
  • Remaining funds are put aside for the school's historic debt.

Te Runanganui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa representative Hohepa Campbell says, “What I have said to the Ministry of Education is to look at your systems and processes in order to have a statutory intervention for schools who face financial hardship.”

However, it seems as though there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the school.

“Today, the ministry told us they are to appoint a new LSM.  It seems like they're going with our plan on who we prefer to come into the school because that person has a greater understanding on what is needed for the school.”

Deputy Secretary, Sector Enablement and Support Katrina Casey says, “To date the kura has been covering the costs of the intervention. The kura has advised us that it is unable to meet the cost of the LSM from this point so we will consider funding some or all of those costs.”