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Revealed: Chris Hipkins forces school to open with a roll of zero

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that Tuturumuri School in the Wairarapa is currently open and employing four staff – despite having zero students. The Union tells this story in video form below.

This revelation is the result of a tip-off from a concerned taxpayer. The school is costing taxpayers $1,300 a day, and the school confirms two full time staff (a teacher and an aide) are required to be on site each day. Two part-timers (a caretaker and cleaner) are also still on the payroll.

After the school’s roll dwindled from seven at the beginning of last year down to two, the board voted to close the school. However, the Minister of Education has stepped in at the last minute to insist on yet another round of consultation (despite the school having gone through a similar process in 2018).

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke, who visited the school last week, says: “The situation at Tuturumuri is bizarre. Two staff members are forced to show up each day at a ghost school, twiddling their thumbs while they wait for the Minister to make a decision. This is a case of provincial politics overriding common-sense. Clearly, the school has an important place in the region’s history, but now it’s time to turn off the taxpayer-funded life support.”

After contacting the Minister’s office, the Union received the following response:

“After consideration, I agreed to close it two years ago but was lobbied heavily to reconsider, including by National Party MPs, and I am doing that. There is a statutory process that must be followed when consideration is being given to closing a school. While this process is underway, the school remains legally open and the staff remain employed. I received a report on a potential closure from the Ministry of Education at the end of last week. It does not need to go to Cabinet.

The Union has requested further information about costs and the Ministry’s consultation process. We await a response.


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