Rangiora: claim and counterclaim – then a demand for Parent to reveal identity

  1.  A Parent says:

May 13, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Perhaps you should take a look at the Board minutes of Sept and Oct 2014. The person who prompted investigation into the sale of the house you are discussing was none other than the then Principal, Mrs Burrows. This is clear in the minutes which are readily available on the school website.


  1. Kelvin says:

May 14, 2016 at 10:50 pm

Dear Parent

Thank-you for your Comment, it allows me to point out some key points that I’m confident will convince you of the consistently errant behaviour of the commissioner and the continuing professional behaviour of one of secondary education’s most notable principals.

I have been informed by one of my many sources on the staff that the commissioner, through the d-p’s Staff Newsletter, was quick to get something out in reply to my carefully accurate website posting. The commissioner, it seems, is clearly rattled and trying to get her script in order before she communicates her yarn to parents in the next few days – we await with interest.

How many times do I need to explain? Here we go again:

The October 2014 Minutes that the ‘d-p’ refers to, records that Peggy Burrows was charged to investigate, on behalf of the Board, the viability of the subdivision of the land. As referred to in my initial posting, the property was always earmarked for sale but not, of course, to fund a ministry building project that is clearly the responsibility of the government.

In 2013, the Board had approval for a Whenua Rahui project in conjunction with Department of Conservation and Land-based Studies. But that special project seems to have gone with the wind resulting in various tricky manoeuvres to hide the fact that the commissioner overspent wildly the money available in the Farmland Funds Interest Account.

Parent – are you following carefully – I don’t want to have to explain this again. The commissioner is trying to convince the staff (yes, every move she makes) that we need to sell the 107 Kippenburger Avenue property to meet the Board’s earlier commitment to fund $900,000 for the Commons area which the ministry refused to fund. That money (are you still with me Parent? I am confident, though, staff members are all attention) was held in the Farmland Funds Investment Account and available in 2014.

If any staff member looked at the Board Finance Report for October, 2014, that staff member would see that the Board had ensured there were sufficient funds in the Investment Account to pay for the Commons contribution.

Aaha! That staff member will ask (as will the thousands of readers of this site), where did all that money – from October, 2014 to May, 2016 – go. May I commend that staff member on the acuity of the question? It happens to be just the question that had formed in my mind.

Oh what a commissioner! The very model of a commissioner out of her depth.

You see: just 4 weeks into her hostile takeover, the commissioner leapt in, all puffed up with the totality of control, and committed to purchase some Rangiruru prefabs to house the Learning Support Department and so spent $700,000 of those already committed funds. The prefabs arrived on site in late 2015 and are now Board-owned buildings meaning the Board will have to fund the upkeep forever. But that upkeep can’t come out of the Operations Grant – and there won’t be any long-term budget for how it will be funded.

Goodness knows what was going through the mind of the principal as this commissioner was bumbling around? The prefabs were not budgeted for so the commissioner raided the Investment Account to pay for them. She was entitled to do that, of course, because that is what commissioners can do – also why they should only be put into schools as an absolutely last resort, not the absolutely no-reason reason as has occurred at Rangiora. The principal would no doubt have cautioned her and, being the professional she is, put it in writing. But to no avail – the Commons project money disappeared into unbudgeted prefabs.

So what does this commissioner do?

Without explanation or consultation with the school community, she attempts to sell an asset worth $450,000 to make up for her arrogant and reckless financial behaviour.

I sense Parent, your letter was intended to put the blame for the attempted sale on the principal.

For goodness sake – enough is enough – a huge injustice has been wrought on a terrific person and principal. When is this nonsense going to end? And none of that smoke without fire rubbish, or there must be something – I can tell you there is nothing. As a former senior inspector of schools, I knew what was going on in flash, I knew the whole thing was a travesty and so, sadly, it has turned out to be.

Dear Parent: this has been a somewhat longer answer to your question. At the heart of it is a shorter one: the issue, in a way, isn’t the spending, it is who is doing it. It should have been you, through your elected representatives, with all the checks and balances that entails, and the exercise of democracy to which we should all be committed.


Kelvin Smythe

… and much later on:

Kelvin says:

May 15, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Dear Parent: information has come from a number of sources to indicate your pseudonym may not be entirely accurate (not I hasten to assure you from the email you sent to my editor). In some circumstances that status is crucial to the conversation – as I think it is here, so I am asking my editor to stop publishing your emails. I see Paul Finch has got in ahead of me and brought up the matter of the earthquakes, which I think was cruel of you to omit; also another dig at democracy and the community voice (wow!); and did I read a threat behind the reference to ERO. You need to understand that when the government bullies, it bullies with all its available powers – ERO ganging up on the side of commissioners is par for the course. As for the ERO report, which I did the equivalent of for 15 years, suggestions for further development in such reports are not criticisms. I think in the circumstances Peggy Burrows and the situation deserve transparency. This is no time for back of the hand innuendo. You should have provided your real name so the worth of your contribution could have been weighed validly and the response to it in line with your status and part in proceedings.

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2 Responses to Rangiora: claim and counterclaim – then a demand for Parent to reveal identity

  1. 111peggyb says:

    Dear Kelvin You are an absolute star. Thank you so much.  Parent is a coward as are all those invisible detractors!! Best Wishes Peggy 

  2. Kelvin says:

    Dear Parent: I asked my editor to put up the above letter because we want to give you a fair go. But your letters are a campaign and, as such, it is important you don’t continue to hide behind anonymity. Readers deserve to know who you are and your part in proceedings.

    I have been in many situations protecting principals against injustice, and the most bitter and serious have all been against women principals. The central problem, though, irrespective of gender, is there are no processes for bureaucratic accountability available to those who seek redress against bureaucratic injustice which means in the often fraught area of education the bureaucrats can quite easily stir up quite primitive emotions against persons they have decided to target – especially I have found from experience if she is a woman (possibly made worse in this case, by the principal’s commitment to Maori education as expressed in her nearly completed doctorate and planned initiatives in the school.)

    In discussing these terrible injustices an article written some time ago (before Rangiora), I adapted the following from Kafka:

    The Kafkan power of the intervention process is such that there is rarely a genuine problem beyond that manufactured by the intervention process itself, meaning that those complaining only need to keep complaining for the intervention process to produce the Kafkan situation of irrationality so deviously favourable to their ends. Once the intervention is in place, the question becomes not what the problem was, but whether the principal is perfect in every respect? And the principal, no matter how insignificant the imperfection revealed or how irrelevant to the initial ‘problem’, is always caught out, and much is made of that, and is a goner. After all, those making the judgement are those arrayed against the principal from the beginning. It seems the advice given by a character in Kafka should have been heeded: ‘The only right thing to do was to come to terms with the circumstances as they were.’ As such principals should ready themselves to have their vocations made to die ‘Like a dog!’ with the shame to outlive them.

    I am trying to do all I can to prevent the ending described.

    You started with one accusation: that the principal was active in the prospective selling of a property as though that was of great significance and ended arguing the toss about whether the ERO report was brilliant or just very good. These things don’t really matter, are just examples of things picked up by commissioners and people like you for your own purposes. Think of the slur of financial irregularities when the principal was first suspended (none); like the principal supposedly going to a conference on Maori education without permission (wrong) – and here you are following that pattern – all anonymously.

    I know those few involved in this persecution of the principal think they are really on to something. For me it is both arduous repetition and fantastically terrible.

    Get a life.

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