Some work for the Education Minister in Hamilton

Guest Post from a Concerned Hamilton resident

The Waikato Times was good enough to advise us that there are $6M of empty classrooms sitting empty in the region.  The process for selling them off is ridiculously long, and some upkeep is still necessary.   Urban drift is the major factor in these schools being empty but an unwieldly and disconnected Ministry of Education is causing havoc in the region.

The Waikato/BOP regional office of the Ministry of Education has done a woeful job overseeing property and funding in recent years:

  • Numerous leaky buildings across the region (whole schools such as Rototuna requiring complete rebuilds)
  • Building schools in Tauranga that can’t be filled due to poor planning on the Ministry’s part
  • Schools under commissionership for years, leading to local parents going private to ensure their children are in a safe, learning-conducive environment
  • Onerous processes for schools applying for funding for special needs and ESOL support

There are worthy projects that are falling by the wayside thanks to the fumbling efforts of the Ministry.

Take the Hamilton North High School project as an example:

Population growth in the North East of Hamilton has been huge.  Anyone taking the 1B from Taupiri to Hamilton will now see an ocean of new housing.  There are at least four feeder schools for a new high school and the Ministry and City Council have set down plans for an additional primary school in Sylvester.  The new housing growth slowed in 2010 but has lifted significantly in the last eighteen months according to Hamilton City Council.  The figures suggest a new high school can be built, but the politics of the Ministry have been in the way.

Due to lack of high school in the area most parents of high school age children send their children to a public single-sex high school in the city or to one of the private high schools further afield.  It isn’t unknown for parents to mortgage their house to meet the education needs of their children.

The Ministry argues that a public high school exists closer for these parents.  That high school is Fairfield College.  A school that has been run under Commissioner for a number of years and only just got a Board of Trustees again, a Limited Statutory Manager and a new Principal.  You’d understand if it’s going to take some time for parents in the North Eastern suburbs to have trust in that school, especially when you view the ERO reports.

This is Fairfield college:

The Ministry is ultimately concerned about ‘white flight’ from Fairfield to a new Rototuna based high school.  The Ministry is not concerned about the safe and appropriate education of children; the latest ERO report for Fairfield was appalling.  The Ministry also knows that as soon as there is a commitment for the building process that house building in the area will sky rocket – I’m sure the developers are also hoping for that.

On top of all that the Ministry is quick to say due to budgetary pressures from leaky school buildings that schools like the one in Rototuna can’t get built.

When will operational departments like the Ministry of Education take some responsibility rather bumble and fumble their way along, using up our tax payer dollars in the process?  And, I won’t even mention school vouchers…


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  • Hakim of phut

    Gee the whims of the upper middle class  have to be followed  at great cost -$45 mill for a new high school. New homes , new friends and new furniture, why not a ‘new ‘school , just for their types only
    Funny how they are happy to drag the kids across town if the school has ‘elite’ status. The worst thing is that they are only interested in their own social status…my kids go to…

    • thor42

      No new school needed. Turn it into a charter school.
      Better teachers (with vastly better pay), better curriculum, happier children, better results.
      Problem solved. 

    • AnonWgtn

      What about the beautiful brand new Maori Secondary School in Bethlehem, Tauranga.

      Why will nobody tell us anything about it – what is the secrecy ?

      • Bunswalla

        What one’s that then? I live close to Bethlehem and haven’t seen it or heard anything about it. Bethlehem School was originally a native school but that was 125 years ago…

      • Ratchet

        That would be the one directly across the road from the Bethlehem Primary School – very nice school indeed! I didn’t realise that it was a secondary school though – though it was years 0-8.

  • Concerned

    Oh yeah, how terrible that parents expect a good education in a pubic school.  I imagine many would send their kids to a local public high school if they believed their child was getting a good education and was in a safe environment.  I bet teachers avoid sending their kids to Fairfield as well.  

    There are plenty of public high schools around the country that are doing a great job… why not Fairfield? 

  • Harold

    Thor, or you could turn Fairfield into a Charter orTrades academy and still have a real High School up the road

  • Kiwidon

    I am a former Fairfield College student (early 60’s) and I can assure you it was well run and if you dared step out of line a certain gym teacher (Mr Leong?) could break the sound barrier with his swift application of the cane………. 
    That long forgotten word “respect” was alive and well!

  • ConwayCaptain

    It is amazing how fast a school can go from being a really good school to having the Commissioner appointed.

    Glenfield College on the N SHore did that in about 3 years.

  • Chiefsfan73

    Pander to the left at your peril.

  • nickle

    Lets see, Fairfield opened in 1957, Melville in 1965, Fraser in 1970, Hillcrest 1972.

    Hamilton population 1976 – 88,000; 2011 – approx 140,000.

    So no new true public schools since 1972. Google tells me we have a ‘Tai Wananga’, opened this year, and a ‘Nga Taiatea” opened not sure when, but at a guess less than 10 years ago.

    Hmmm, go figure…..


    • Steve (North Shore)

      Melville, yeah fuck that was a long time ago. Batman, Happy, Granny, and no Maori bullshit

      • Boss Hogg

        Hey Steve, was that Granny Hawkins ????  And from my memory there was plenty of “Maori Bullshit” simmering just below the surface there as well as over the fence where the “Bad Boys” were sent.  I was Melville Primary 1967 to Melville High 1978.

    • Hakim of phut

      Smaller families. today
        previously a HS  was big if it had 1000 pupils , now that would small for a large urban area.
      There is a ‘designation’ in place  for  a new HS in Rototuna, so it will come, eventually 

  • nickle

    Lets see, Fairfield opened in 1957, Melville in 1965, Fraser in 1970, Hillcrest 1972.

    Hamilton population 1976 – 88,000; 2011 – approx 140,000.

    So no new true public schools since 1972. Google tells me we have a ‘Tai Wananga’, opened this year, and a ‘Nga Taiatea” opened not sure when, but at a guess less than 10 years ago.

    Hmmm, go figure…..