Nov 15, 2011

More on Kawerau Intermediate

Let’s be straight up; schooling in Kawerau needs to be reorganised. While I think Anne Tolley ignored a section of the community and that is undesirable, I think she came to the right decision. The current schooling arrangements in Kawerau are unsustainable. The numbers don’t exist to justify four separate primary schools (one of which is a full primary school i.e. years 1-8), one intermediate and one high school. Basically, supply outstrips demand. The costs of maintaining six schools with massively declining rolls are unacceptable.

Tolley has approved the establishment of a dual campus year 7-14 school on the Kawerau College site. The school will be split along the junior/senior high model, meaning there will be one years 7 to 10 school and another catering for years 11 to 13/14. Some specialist facilities will be shared, for example science labs.

Some members of the community are disappointed with the lack of consultation. I don’t accept this; the consultation was more than adequate. The community was given adequate time to submit to the Minister and convey their concerns to the Ministry of Education. Several hui were held for the entire community and each school held their own individual hui to determine what model they would support. Kawerau South, Kawerau North, Kawerau Central and Putauaki all supported the closure of the Intermediate. Even though the Mayor, Malcolm Campbell, even says it is time to move on and make education in Kawerau work.

Tolley’s reorganisation will facilitate a culture change in Kawerau schools. The useless management will be rid of and the deadwood on the College and Intermediate boards will be rid of too. Useless staff will not be rehired either. I understand some Kawerau people, as former students, have an emotional connection to the Intermediate. But they need to put that aside and face reality. The schools have to be reorganised and closing the Intermediate is the most sensible option. When the new school comes to life in 2013 the government will spend millions upgrading facilities and attracting high quality staff. This can only be a good thing.

As an aside, Steve Chadwick is taking a gamble. Should, on a slim chance, Labour form the next government Steve will have to make an about face. She has come down on the side of the Intermediate supporters, but if she came into government and saw the official advice I'm of the view that she would change her position and support the reorganisation. The advice from the Ministry is, I believe, emphatic. Schooling must be reorganised and the best model is to shut the Intermediate and partially merge it with the College.


  1. With due respect to your ties with Kawerau your understanding of the situation, the levels of predetermination from the outset of the process and the continuing determination within the community to retain the intermediate is way of the mark.

    Let me correct you on your many inaccuracies:

    1. The community did accept from the outset that there was a need for some re-organisation of schooling in Kawerau.

    2. Yes there has been many opportunities for the community to provide feedback to the Minister through the consultation process. The fact of the matter is that this information was presented in such a way as to try and manipulate the process. One example being submissions from the community. Rather than these being presented to in an equitable way those that had come from the intermediate were 'summarized' (a document we have never seen) by the ministry representatives whereas all other submissions were presented as is to the Minister - hardly a level playing field.

    3. The Mayor has said that he will back the community view and if the decision is to continue the fight then he will support the people.

    4. You have obviously never advertised a teaching position in Kawerau. Your idealism that we receive huge amounts of quality applicants is completely wrong. The reality is that applicant numbers are always very low and the levels of quality available to select from is often extremely limited.

    5. Given your age I am unsure as to whether you have children of your own, but I suspect not. This being the case your disengaged view of what it means to enroll your child in a school and your expectation for their education and safety whilst there is limited. The parents/caregivers of Kawerau, some of who are your whanau, do know what is best for their kids and should not be stopped from expecting a government to deliver this.

    5.You speak about the millions of dollars as if it is an answer. This is simply not the case. Sure money can allow schools to provide greater opportunities and better facilities but schools are about people not money.

    6. You speak about the 'official advice,' as being emphatic. I have accumulated under the Official Information Act documents from the outset of this process to this current point in time. Perhaps you too have read all of this documentation, but I somehow doubt it given your claims that it is emphatic. What is clearly shows is the overwhelming majority of the community for 12 months has wanted to retain intermediate schooling in Kawerau and this view has been ignored. It has also been interesting for me to read the ministry spin about how they are going to handle specific schools and individuals (including myself) through this process. Perhaps you yourself have been managed?

    7.I disagree completely with your point regarding Steve Chadwick and do so based on the fact that she has been an active member throughout this process, has met with the community on numerous occasions and unlike yourself actually understands the complexities for education in this town.

    Thank you for your ongoing interest in our battle. I would ask that instead of making supposed conclusions about what is going on from afar that you take the time to try and understand the situations and the fact that politicians work for the people not the other way around.


    Daryl Aim
    Kawerau Intermediate

  2. All due respect, Mr Godfrey, but didnt you express concern at merging the intermediate with the college?

  3. Hi Daryl,

    I respect the work you have done for the Intermediate and by extension the community, but I believe you are on the wrong side of the debate.

    1. Yes, as I said in previous posts on the Intermediate, the community did accept the need for reorganisation. You may not know, but this is the second time the government has tried to reorganise schooling in Kawerau. In the 2000’s the then Labour government recognised that sustainability problems were going to arise so looked to pre-empt the problem. The community was firmly opposed and Labour could not afford to offend what is a Labour town (especially given Steve Chadwick’s tenuous hold on the seat). The problem has now arised and action, in my opinion the right action, is being taken and the community accepts this.

    2. It is common practise for submissions for each side of the debate to be summarised. Ministers do not have the time to read individual submissions so their staffers or people staffers within the Ministry itself will summarise submissions. It has nothing to do with skewing the playing field – it’s just how Ministerial Offices and Government in general operate. The situation is this: the submissions are summarised or not read at all. I suggest you OIA the summarised document if you think something dirty has occurred.

    3. The Mayor is quoted in the media as saying it’s time to get behind the reorganisation and, apparently, this position has not changed. You would know that the Mayor sees the Intermediate premises as an opportunity for growth in the town.

    4. I didn’t say Kawerau receives huge amounts of quality applicants? Having been schooled in Kawerau I know this isn’t true. In fact, Kawerau schools probably have access, with a few notable exceptions, to the shallow end of the pool. I don’t know what you’re getting at.

    5. I accept this. It is up to the parent to decide what is best for their children. However, I do not accept the overly romantic view that the ordinary parent knows how schooling should best be delivered. I am not expert, sure, but I have taken a harder look than most parents would have.

    6. Yes, schools are about people. Hence my suggestion that teachers and management will have to reapply for their jobs and this will facilitate a culture change and allow the Ministry to employ staff who are capable. Extra funding and a staff shake up go hand in hand and will, hopefully, lead to better schools.

    7. Remember it was I who advised you to make OIA requests. I made a request too. I have been privy to the advice the Minister has received and I am convinced that you are on the wrong side of the debate and the battle is lost. If that makes me managed, then yes I am.

    8. I know Steve Chadwick personally and know of her involvement in the process. Steve Chadwick is a brilliant person, but mark my words that is what she will do if Labour forms the next government (remember I used to work for them so I know how they operate).

    It appears that we disagree, quite fundamentally too. And to anon, I did, and I have changed my mind after reviewing the evidence.

  4. Hi Morgan,

    Thank you for your feedback. I would just like to clarify a couple of points.

    In your 'More on Kawerau Intermediate' above you state that 'When the new school comes to life in 2013 the government will spend millions upgrading facilities and attracting high quality staff. This can only be a good thing. In my response of which you have subsequently agreed there is a high chance that the pool of staff to choose from will not contain the large number of quality applicants. Successful experience and the ability to manage difficult students is also required. I think we both agree on this point.

    The Mayor has stated publicly through the media that it is time to get in behind the reorganization and make it work. However he also attended the community hui this week where he heard clearly the voice of a large contingent of the community who want to continue the fight to retain intermediate schooling in Kawerau.

    At our hui held on Tuesday evening the Intermediate Board Chairperson Petrina Hayes and myself put that very point to the community. Is it time to accept the Ministers decision and begin on the process of reorganisation? There were at least 150 locals at this meeting and they asked that the Board keep up the fight. There were others saying that it is time to accept and move on with the process. When a show of hands was called for at the end the overwhelming majority were for continuing the fight, one person voted to accept the decision with the rest abstaining.

    I do think you have a sound knowledge of the process to date and that the time frame (which has now stretched out over 12 months) has been too long.

    As Principal of the intermediate and a member of the Board I will always work in the interests and direction of the Board, Parents/Caregivers and school community.

    I have stated that the proposal the Minister has presented does have the potential to be a success if managed correctly and dependent on attracting suitably qualified personnel. It also has the potential to be a failure and result an even greater exodus of students out of Kawerau. Of course the dream for us all is that should the school be established that it is successful and becomes the school of choice for the Kawerau population.

    To clarify a point for those whom do not know me. I do not live in Kawerau but this does not mean that I do not have an association to the town and its people. I have over the past five years endeavored to build a strong educational environment for the year 7 & 8 students of Kawerau. On the whole I do believe this has been achieved. A huge part of my employment involves working with the wider whanau around a myriad of issues/problems. Through this work I have developed a deep understanding of the struggles a number of families are currently facing in Kawerau.

    Finally you say that you changed your views after reviewing the evidence. It is this same evidence that has pursuaded the Board through legal advice to seek a judicial review.

    Daryl Aim

  5. I take your word that the Mayor has committed to following the wishes of the community. The sticky point is this: what is, or are, the wishes of the community. From my point of view the only Kawerau people left supporting your stand are your students and their parents – only a small number of Kawerau people who are not affiliated to the Intermediate are left supporting your cause. I tend to think the 150 people who turned up to your meeting were not a representative sample of the community. Parents of current students, yes, a cross section of the community, no. This is becoming a private battle between you, the school board and parents of current students.

    Yes, I changed my mind after reviewing the evidence. Now I don’t see what you are getting at in saying “the evidence” has persuaded the Board to apply for judicial review. Judicial review, as I’m sure you know, can only be sought on matters of procedure, for example did the Minister take into account irrelevant considerations when coming to her decision. You cannot seek judicial review if you dissatisfied with the quality or outcome of the decision. The Court cannot rule whether or not the Minister made “the right decision”. The Court can only rule on whether the Minister followed the correct procedure in reaching her decision. Nothing suggests to me that the Minister has breached proper process. Perhaps the Board is privy to information the rest of us are not. Few judicial reviews actions succeed – especially ones where the party appears, prima facie, aggrieved at the outcome of the decision rather than the process followed. Judicial review is also expensive as I’m sure your first legal bill showed. Is your operational budget, and I assume that’s where the money is coming from, not better spent on the students of 2012.

  6. I just cannot believe the crapp you are dishing out Morgan. Son of a ex gang member turned "goody good" can be so ignorant of what the majority of the people in Kawerau have been fighting for. You were there when 7 bus loads marched to the steps of Parliament and protested against the closure of the Intermediate. You heard what Todd McClay said that they have listened to the community then received a lot of jeering from the protesters for his blatant lies. Now you agree with what Tolley is doing. Of course you would for someone who never attended the Intermediate and College in Kawerau. It is people like you who do not know what is happening at the school now finds it easy enough to criticise those who are doing their best to retain the Intermediate school.
    You call yourself a Kawerau ike? Well I don't think so. When you have lived in this town for 54 years of your life and seen the "ups and down" then you have the right to call yourself that. My father, mother, brothers, sisters, daughter and myself worked in Tasman. My husband and son still work there and we have all established a very proud record. I have personally watched this town expand and to what is today. My siblings and I attended the schools in this town. Kawerau Central, Kawerau South, Kawerau Intermediate and Kawerau College. We have all done well and still are from the education we received from these schools. My own kids attended Putauaki, Kawerau Intermediate and Kawerau College and proudly are doing well. I now have moko who have attended Putauaki and Kawerau Intermediate though sadly because of the situation the College is at now, my eldest moko is attending college in Whakatane.
    You go on about people should stop dwelling on the past and let Tolley and her cronies do whatever they want with our schools. What about the loss of jobs? National goes on about reducing the unemployment. Crapp!!! They have just created 20 job losses in Kawerau with their reorganisation of the schools.
    Maybe a judicial review will be expensive but if it's effective well it was bloody worth it. So watch this space!

  7. The majority? You clearly keep like minds as company. The less than 150 people who turned up to your latest meeting does not constitute a majority nor do they represent the majority of the town.

    Thanks for proving my point. It appears your support for the Intermediate is based on nothing more than an emotional connection. Rather than base your arguments on emotion accept the fact, because it is a fact, that reorganisation has to occur and the Minister has selected her option. Although Tolley will be gone this term I assure you Hekia Parata will not listen to your group. Hekia stood against her own people, Ngati Porou and her whanaunga in Whanau Apanui, when they were standing against the government re oil prospecting. Her democratic credentials are worse than Tolley's.

    Is that the qualification one has to meet for claiming they’re from Kawerau? Well, if that's the case then I guess 98% of the town will fail. I wonder where they're from if not from Kawerau. I don't know who made you the judge on a persons connection to the town.

    Do you even know the remedies the Court can order for judicial review? Let me give you an overrun:

    There are three broad grounds for judicial review.

    1) Illegality (includes, for example, error of law or fact, irrelevant considerations and improper delegation)

    2) Irrationality (the decision is so outrageous no reasonable person could have made it)

    3) Procedural defects (for example the rules of natural justice were not adhered to)

    The only grounds I can see where the Intermediate has even a remote chance of success is arguing a breach of natural justice. However, the chances are so remote it seems like a waste of time. There was no actual or perceived bias, all stakeholders were given the right to be heard and reasons exist for the decision.

    Now, hypothetically speaking, say the Intermediate’s claim is successful. The Court cannot quash the decision because the Minister cannot, in this case, act ultra vires (act outside of her legal power) as it is her power to close schools. The Judge could make a declaratory judgement but in no way is the Minister obliged to take note. About the most the Court can do in the Intermediate’s case is order the Minister to review the decision. This means the Minister review the decision this time meeting all the legal requirements and then she will come to the same decision i.e. close the Intermediate. It’s a lost battle no matter if the Court, in some off chance, falls on the Intermediate’s side.

  8. Yes Morgan I may have an emotional involvement but so do those who are fighting to keep the Intermediate open. Yes we did have only 150 people at our last meeting. Reason being this meeting was called very soon after the school holidays. The second day, of the fourth term in fact. So taking into consideration that this was a last minute, word of mouth, emails, radio and school newsletters, all done in one and half days was a very good turn out. Normally there would be a packed hall after a weeks notice.
    Yes, we are well aware that Hekia Parata could be the next Minister of Education and yes she probably would stand her stance and not go our way That is typical of an arse licker. And yes she is not the flavour of the month with her own people. With an idiot like John Banks being her Associate Minister who is now trying to create Charter Schools. Good Gosh!! What is going to happen to education?
    As you say the Minister cannot, in this case act outside her legal power, as it is her power to close schools. Yep! You're right there because that's how politicians are, "puppets on a string". She may get the portfolio but she is still pulled by the strings.
    As you said submissions are summarised. Yes the ministry only writes what they want, and what the Minister wants to hear. I personally have attended all the meetings barring one. Every meeting their proposals were different. Different to suit what each school wanted to hear. And yes they did exactly what they went out to achieve. Split the community! To this point where you and I are now in a split debate yet I hardly know you or, you I.
    All I can say is we will keep on keeping on and fight till the end "cos that's how we roll in K-Town"

  9. has anyone even considered the views of the college, pupils and staff? This is hugely unsettling for all! And fear and disapproval are all natural reactions to change...but it doesn't mean that it will all turn bad!

    The affects of this decision doesn't just lie with Daryl Aims and the intermediate.

    It would be nice if this change could just be accepted and dealt with as this is the only way we can move forward for our kids!! Change in this circumstance could actually be positive.

    Kawerau is dear to my heart as well as many others,and yes I too am nervous about the situation. But be assured, the college is not immune to nerves of such a change nor are they taking the whole restructuring of Kawerau school lightly.

    Such negativity received from Daryl about the situation is rather damaging to the college, and the town. Why can't people stop their bickering and accept the change for the better and move forward?

    Why can't Daryl just accept the change and work together with the college? If it is really about our kids education, then I would've expected the Intermediate to be more proactive in making the years 7-13 school work by now. Arguing about it and not actively planning for a positive future is completely nonconstructive and will leave our kids short of a quality education!!



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