Is this the end of Hekia? Auditor-General to be asked to investigate Rangiora High School scandal

From an original purchase of a piece of land for 25 pounds, Rangiora High School, as a result of prudent financial management over 131 years, has built up assets of $18M. Those assets are held under the High School Reserves in the Education Lands Act, 1949.

I want to get right to the nub. (The information used in this posting has been assembled by a number of people using the Official Information Act, or I have gathered myself, or I have been informed by my source within the ministry.)

The assets referred to belong (or did belong) to the school community under the control of the principal and board of trustees.

Five years ago, three board members arrived with their own agenda in relation to the assets. While contributing to the main action, these three are only bit players, and I don’t want to be side-tracked by their antics.

In fighting off these bit players, Rangiora High School referred the matter to the ministry, where the $18M came to the attention of Hekia Parata.

The school had gained or was about to gain funding for new school buildings (around $15M I believe). When Hekia heard about the $18M, and saving money was all the education rage, she listened with greater attention to the bit players and, as a deviation, subsequently formed plan of her own to take-over the school and strip it of its assets.

But there were two obstructions to her plan: the board of trustees and the principal; and a caveat on how any proceeds of land sales can be used.

The board of trustees and the principal had to be got rid of because they administered the assets on behalf of the community.

What Hekia needed was the assets being administered on behalf of the ministry.

So the board was sacked and the principal put on leave and officially gagged by a commissioner who had been appointed on farcically spurious grounds. This was all a pretext for transferring assets from the control of the school community to that of Hekia.

A commissioner is responsible to the ministry not the school or community and, in this case, should be seen as an asset-stripper sent in by those who control her.

The commissioner has gone to extraordinary lengths to gain ‘evidence’ to undermine the caveat. A caveat that meant proceeds from any land sales must be like-for-like (though still allowing for some accruing interest to be spent on the school).

The minister through the commissioner has gained control of the assets that properly belong to the school community to be administered by their elected representatives in accordance with the law.

I have hundreds of pages of information that make it clear that under the caveat, proceeds from land sales must be spent like-for-like.

At last the commissioner and ministry have now shown their hand.

The commissioner, in the strangest of newsletters to parents says:

As you may know, it has long been understood in the community that there was a caveat in place requiring the funds from the 2007 sale of a re-zoned parcel of land, south of Kippenberger Avenue, to be used for a future farm purchase. When I was reviewing all of the legal documentation for the use of the school property, I could find no documentation relating to this on the school’s files.

I want to assure readers this is utter nonsense: I have in my possession a considerable number school documents referring to the caveat, explaining it, reaffirming it.

This invidious newsletter was sent out in duplicitous style in the last week of the school year; parliament is closing down for two months so questions can’t be asked in the House; and just as the principal was about to return to school, the commissioner demanded another health certificate – all this is ruthless but also desperate. Hekia and the ministry are boxed in, counting on New Zealand closing down for December-January giving them time to use their legal and propaganda resources to break out free of sanction and with the schools’ assets over their shoulders like a renegade Santa. This wicked behaviour must not be allowed to happen.

Unless the community combines with those who are fighting for justice for the principal and board, and the protection of assets for the children of North Canterbury – when school recommences, they may well find those assets greatly diminished.

I read the case against the principal and board and, as a former senior inspector of schools, immediately recognised it as a totally put-up job.  And now we know that that put-up job was to open the way for an officially-sanctioned illegal heist on the assets of a school made possible by the ruthless sacking of a board and a defamation of a principal. This is a matter for the Auditor-General to investigate the asset ill-doing; a parliamentary inquiry into the use of commissioners; and a case to the employment court regarding the principal – even a call to the police for conspiracy to harm.

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39 Responses to Is this the end of Hekia? Auditor-General to be asked to investigate Rangiora High School scandal

  1. Juliet Maihi says:

    This is so obvious! How has it gone on for so long? Well done Kelvin for your article which sets things out plainly and goes straight to the point. So, how do we get the Auditor-General, Parliament, and The Employment court on to this – urgently? Any ideas?

    • Kelvin says:

      Moves being made now by people in Rangiora.

    • Jacqui says:

      How do we know that any of this is true. I cant see any references

      • Kelvin says:

        The key documentary evidence is the quote from the commissioner’s newsletter saying there is no caveat. What an amazing matter to land on a secondary school in its closing week. I have piles of paper and evidence but in the context of the surrounding argument that quote is the nub.

  2. Hebe GeBe says:

    Well judging from recent moves in the government, if Hekia is determined guilty, she may be stood down for five minutes!

  3. kellyned says:

    Unfortunately, I understand from relatives in Rangiora, the circulated rumour says that the Principal wanted to capture the funds for other purposes – not the MoE. I wonder where that was initiated from!

    • Lisa Davis says:

      Yes that is what parents have been led to believe. Absolutely disgraceful if it’s not true.

      • Kelvin says:

        Peggy and other board members wanted to protect the decades old asset, a few others wanted otherwise, and Hekia as well. That is what the invidious December newsletter was about, undoing like-with-like, undermining the vision of those who set up the asset. If it hadn’t been like-for-like there wouldn’t have been an asset, and if it changes, there won’t be. A gag was put on Peggy, the commissioner was free to say and do what she liked. A huge injustice and in Rangiora. Can you imagine what she has been through?

      • Lisa Davis says:

        Yes I can if its untrue. So what is the real story with the trip Peggy went on with money from school funds? Was it for the benefit of the school or not?

      • Allan Alach says:

        Lisa, in my 20 years as a school principal, the BOTs at my four schools paid for me to attend conferences all around New Zealand, and in Australia, as part of my professional development. Further one school’s BOT contributed substantially towards my travel costs when I went to England on sabbatical to study how various technologies were being used in the classroom. This kind of expenditure is totally within a BOT’s rights, and is the case in schools all across the country.

        Anyone who suggests that Peggy’s expenses should not have been met is mischief making in the extreme and I suggest you reflect why this has been done.

      • Paul Finch says:

        If it’s NOT about asset stripping, let’s keep an eye on the schools property at 115 West Belt and 107 Kippenburger.

        Isn’t 115 where the community garden is ? Which hasn’t had its lease renewed ? That was in the paper wasn’t it ?

        I wonder what’s happening at 107 ?

  4. Kelvin says:

    Yes – that came from the three dissidents and commissioner. Someone is going to go down over this. We have to make sure it is Hekia and commissioner.

  5. Kenny Moore says:

    at last the truth is getting out there – this is a total outrage. Let alone all the skulduggery and the politics what about the treatment of an outstanding educator in Peggy Burrows. This is bullying at its very worst, what an example our children are being set. Heads need to hang in shame before they are rolled!

  6. Chris says:

    Clearly written by someone who has never worked or had family members that have worked under the ex principle of the school. Whilst your theory will clearly get some saber rattling going in the community and nicely deflects the real reason the board and the principle were removed from the school, it is just a conspiry theory. The school has been miss managed and staff have been bullied by senior management. Ex staff members have been paid out by the school in out of court settlement to gag them from coming forward. A clear divide and conquer mentality of management has been in place at the school for many years – this came from the top. Provide evidence of this theory or just go back to your rock and crawl under it….

    • Kelvin says:

      Chris – you are wrong. The school has never been involved with the employment court, never had a grievance situation, and never had to pay money. There has been mediation, and I know what you are referring to, but you are wrong. A story like that always circulates when a good person is standing up for what is right. NZCER took staff surveys up to 2014; I have studied the surveys carefully and they reflect very well on the school leadership, This is a wonderful principal who is where she is now because she refused to behave irresponsibly and illegally with a school community asset. The asset, over 131 years, has grown to where it is because of like-for-like according to the caveat. If a private school has assets everyone is fine with that. When a state school has assets, it seems, greedy people get greedy ideas. If the money was in a Maori trust, Hekia wouldn’t touch it; but a state school, get out of my way, what do they want that for? Grab! No Chris – I budge for no one.

    • tabbitah says:

      Chris… What are your reasons on your personal conspiracy theory? What is your evidence that the school has been mis managed? We are very, very interested in your factual and hard evidence that bullying and mis management has occurred?Provide your evidence and we will write a retraction… or you are welcome to a rock of your choice to shelter under…. This is a factual recount of events that have really occurred, we are open to all sides supported by facts.

  7. Kelvin says:

    A BOT member from … has made an interesting comment on Twitter about the Rangiora situation.

    Given that schools, like his, have been very prudent over the years and built up cash reserves, he is now concerned that Hekia’s raid on Rangiora is merely the first step in raids on other school’s funds. After all with the govt’s rhetoric about getting back into surplus, all those funds held by schools must be a very tempting target.

  8. Wayne Hawker says:

    Well, Well, Well Great job Kelvin in helping to expose this. When she closed phillipstown the assets that The new merged school took that were either gifted to or purchased from the many thousands of dollars fund raised left us gobsmacked, I was personally involved in raising in excess of $300,000 for our school over 18 years which is why we were well resourced, Z energy gave the school/ community a van, Sir David Levene gave funding for a giant climbing tower and Ministry said at time that it all belonged to them. Heads need to roll starting with Ms Parata but also within the Ministry and a formal independent enquiry into how Ministry is operating from here in Ch Ch needs to happen.

  9. Nesta D says:

    This is very interesting: Tomorrow’s Schools were supposed to make schools into independent entities, like private schools, that could run themselves without too much reference to the government – a myriad of NGOs in effect. However, once they start to be financially successful NGOS their autonomy is clawed back…. such autonomy as they are left after National Standards etc. The whole point of the ‘self-governing school’ was to encourage them to treat their resources in the same way private schools would, and (therefore) to be more frugal than it was believed that state-funded institutions would/could be.

  10. Andrew says:

    It shows the true interest in schools isn’t the children or the future but money. This is day light robbery. I hope the truth wins!!!

  11. Sea Weed says:

    Lies, treachery and theft… All standard operating procedures for this nashernil party regime.I asked myself why it was that John Key seemed so determined to undermine the viability of South Canterbury Finance long before any investigation was instigated. To my mind it was a clear case of Tortious Interference.. “Tortious interference is a common law tort allowing a claim for damages against a defendant who wrongfully interferes with the plaintiff’s contractual or business relationships. See also intentional interference with contractual relations.”

  12. Gwyn says:

    According to my well informed on these matters husband, this is a clear case of conspiracy to defraud and as it is way above the SFO minimum threshold for investigation, should be taken straight to them, with maximum publicity.

  13. Kelvin says:

    Thank-you Gwyn and Sea Weed: I thought of the SFO but offhand felt a bit below threshold. The first thing is to free Peggy Burrows to be able to speak and provide school-based documents.

  14. It’s a sad day when being a teacher or principal leaves one open to premeditated and cruel attacks from government officials. This is one of a long line I now know of. When did teachers become the enemy, and why?

    • poled says:

      The teachers are the enemy because they know too much, they are the experts, they are the ones with the questioning minds, they are the ones with their eye not on the real ball – (the real ball being the lists to publish) – but on kids and learning.

      What is going on is our version of the ‘Cultural Revolution.’ Some might say that some of the motives of Mao Zedong had merit. Maybe it’s our cultural revolution in the style of Nicolae Ceaușescu.

  15. Heather Scherger says:

    About 13 years ago, we were involved in a situation at Cambridge High School. In this instance it was the principle who was “cooking” the books. Mrs. Annan and her husband went on many overseas trips to try and gain more overseas students for an already top heavy situation with foreign students. But then, why not, the school would get lots more money! ( She and her husband also ran a private school in Cambridge for foreign students that she would have been recruiting on these overseas trips. )At the same time she was one mother of a bully. You didn’t dare cross her, and she had total control of the board of trustees. She was eventually removed from office in disgrace, but it took one hell of a long time! Okay, the point of all of this? Good on you for trying to get to the facts. Whichever way it goes, this obviously needs investigating. Greed can do nasty things to people, and that needs to come into the light.

    • Donald says:

      What mischief Heather. We too lived in Cambridge at that time and were aware of Principal Annan’s fraudulent behaviour. The difference here is the Auditor General and the Specialist Adviser Mike Rondel found nothing but ‘best practice’ when auditing the accounts at Rangiora High School. In fact the Rangiora High School Principal set up the Rangiora High School Education Trust and grew the Farm-land Funds from $7.7M in 2007 to approximately $9M in 2014. This can be seen by any perusal of the school’s Financial Statements. Please don’t ever compare Peggy Burrows with Alison Annan again – they are as different as day from night.

      • Kelvin says:

        Donald your terrific response about the abilities of Peggy, and the specifics of how those abilities were expressed, is most valuable. To defend Heather, her point about was about how money can make people behave badly – in this case, it seemed to me, people and an organisation other than Peggy. Don’t want two good people falling out over this. As it happens, I live in Cambridge, and I can heartily say you are both right.

  16. Kelvin says:

    This is in response to Lisa’s comment on an overseas trip:

    The ‘real story’ with the trip to Philadelphia in February 2015 was to attend a conference to deliver a paper on the PhD research the Principal had undertaken at Rangiora High School over the past 4 years. The presentation was on four case studies of Māori student from Rangiora High School.

    The conference was paid for from the Principal’s professional development budget and had been approved by the BOT in the 2014 budget round.

    The $5,000 dollars referred to by TVNZ was allocated by the Board for the school’s DP to attend the conference with the Principal, as is appropriate in indigenous settings. As well Mere Berryman, a notable New Zealand researcher was a Key Note Speaker at the conference and the Principal’s paper was underpinned by Berryman’s work.

    As the Principal was gagged by the Commissioner when this issue was raised in the media she could not reply to these spurious allegations and her employer chose to remain silent even though she knew the work was of educational benefit to the students of not only Rangiora but Aotearoa/New Zealand as well.

    Oh goodness Lisa: as a person who spends a lot of time protecting principals and teachers from terrible ministry behaviour, the rumours and mischief around principals’ overseas trips is such a cliché. These are latched on in the absence of anything else. Why aren’t we concentrating on the bad guys in the bureaucracies rather than tearing down the good guys in schools?

    • Lisa Davis says:

      Good to hear the truth on that issue. Absolutely disgusting that Peggy is gagged from speaking out but Bev Moore can spread lies. Hope this gets sorted and soon!!

      • Kelvin says:

        Lisa: Good on you. By the way, I now have a source within the school. It seems, see Paul Finch Comment as well, that to pay for the commissioner, real estate important to school is being sold. I have checked with my source and it seems authentic. The source also said an expensive private investigator had been hired.

  17. Lisa says:

    Is the commissioner (Bev Moore) the same person who was the BOT Chairperson at Marlborough Girls’ College (MGC) when Peggy (Principal at Rangiora) was Deputy Principal at MGC?

  18. Kelvin says:

    Yes – Lisa, she is.

  19. Paul Finch says:

    Just a reminder. Please do access our petition calling for Peggy’s reinstatement. Read the articles, read the supportive comments that have come in from all over the world. Then sign it. Then share it.
    Kindest regards,
    Paul

    https://www.change.org/p/honorable-hekia-parata-fully-reinstate-peggy-burrows-as-principal-of-rangiora-high-school?recruiter=44536772&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

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