Talks under way on Maori school
Consultation is about to begin over a controversial proposal to establish a new Maori school, driven by relatives of Education Minister Hekia Parata.
The move comes before the Government announces its final decisions on 17 school closures and mergers in Christchurch, expected by the end of May.
Before The Press revealed that Te Pa o Rakaihautu had been approved by former Education Minister Anne Tolley in November 2011, little was publicly known about the school, which could cost $17 million to establish.
Now the project is ready to enter consultation and is expected to be completed by the end of term two.
Associate Education Minister Pita Sharples has taken over the reigns of Te Pa as relatives of Parata are involved in the project.
Chairwoman Rangimarie Parata and Reihana Parata are both relatives of Parata.
Apryll Parata, Parata's sister, was Maori education deputy secretary when the school was endorsed.
She is now the ministry's deputy secretary for performance and change.
Correspondence between the ministry and Te Pa's proposers, released under the Official Information Act, reveals that Sharples approved consultation on December 12 last year.
An education report, signed by Sharples, stated: "The proposal to establish the new school, while being considered alongside the current reorganisation of schooling in the greater Christchurch region, was not considered as part of the plan for education renewal."