Warriors bidder Paul Davys caught up in childcare centre license controversy
An Auckland businessman eyeing up the New Zealand Warriors is embroiled in a legal stoush over a childcare centre.
Paul Davys, who co-owns ChoiceKids Ormiston in south Auckland, is in talks to purchase the stricken rugby league franchise.
However, Davys' childcare centre has been shut down by the Ministry of Education, who moved to prosecute after it was found to be operating without a licence.
The sudden closure has come after repeated warnings from the Ministry regarding the centre's certification, leaving parents "shattered".
Davys in talks to buy the Auckland-based NRL outfit, and said the closure came after there was a "misunderstanding" with the Ministry over their building's license.
He said he believed at the time they could legally use the centre as a "drop-in centre" for children while they waited for the licence to be approved.
"We got that wrong," he said.
The centre staff had only wanted to help families whose children were enrolled at the ChoiceKids, he said.
Former Kiwis international Peter Brown and Davys are co-directors of the business, which has four facilities across Manurewa and Clendon.
Davys said he was not aware the Ministry was looking to prosecute.
"I think they would be hard-pressed to prosecute. That's for sure."
He felt he did everything right in the process and his legal team were involved, he said.
Staff hoped the Ormiston centre would reopen in a few weeks. In the meantime, some children were being taken to other ChoiceKids centres.
Davys declined to comment further.
It was unclear when the centre first opened. However, a Ministry of Education official said they became aware of the centre operating without a licence in late July.
Deputy secretary Katrina Casey said the centre continued to illegally open for a time despite repeated warnings to cease operation.
"This was unacceptable and we commenced a prosecution."
Licensing requirements are not optional.
"Licensing rules are there for good reason – to protect the welfare of children and to ensure required standards are kept that support children's safety and wellbeing,"
As the centre was not licensed it was not receiving any operational funding from the Ministry of Education.
"We have provided assistance to parents who need to find alternate ECE arrangements," Casey said.
ChoiceKids has submitted a licence application for the Ormiston Road service which is currently being considered by the Ministry.
Father Eris Adam said his son Roman, 3, had only started at the centre a few weeks before it closed.
"I finished work and went to pick him up and they were giving us letters saying the school was closing. I was pretty shattered."
Roman was among children being bused to a different ChoiceKids branch each day.
Another parent, Ana, said it has been frustrating saga and wasn't concerned about the centre not having a licence.
"My son loves it there. The ministry has gone overboard. If I can trust my son to go there then it shouldn't be a problem. I trust the staff."
ChoiceKids sent parents a letter on August 14 telling them to "not attend" the building.
"The Ministry of Education have in our opinion acted unfairly and unreasonable in requesting that we shut down this facility," the letter stated.
Centre managers apologised to parents for the inconvenience.
Davys is high profile businessman in Auckland.
He went public on Sunday with his bid in to buy the club off Watson, setting a deadline of Friday for a deal to be struck.