Pohutukawa petition presented to Parliament

Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki, far right, with, from left, Angela Fulljames, Malcolm Bell and Angela Mason. Photo supplied

A petition asking the Minister of Education to build a secondary school in the Pohutukawa Coast was successfully presented to Parliament.

The subject has been an issue within the community for decades.

Beachlands resident Angela (Angie) Mason has been leading the charge for a new secondary school for several years.

She was inspired to act after she heard Franklin Local Board member Malcolm Bell speak about it to the Maraetai Hall committee.

Bell has been a secondary school advocate for years. He told the Times that Waiuku – a rural town west of Pukekohe with a similar population to Beachlands – has a high school but the Pohutukawa Coast community doesn’t.

In 2019, Mason set up an online petition with plans to present it to the parliament by an MP.

The petition was opened on August 21 and closed on December 31 and had around 3600 signatures.

The petition states that “to meet Auckland’s housing shortage, the Pohutukawa Coast was up-zoned under the Auckland Unitary Plan 2016 and may be close to 20,000 population by 2031”.

Currently, it continues, there is no high school for this growing community and high-school students must bus up to 20km along high-speed rural roads with high crash rates.

“The Ministry of Education needs to build a high school to serve the Coast,” the petition says.

Mason and others have been meeting regularly with Labour List MP from Papakura Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki. She’s been working with concerned parents and Franklin Local Board members, Bell and Angela Fulljames.

“On our behalf Anahila met with the Associate Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti, and has been in contact with the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, to raise the issue,” Mason said.

Judith Collins, the MP for Papakura, has also met the group and formally wrote to Hipkins on their behalf to ask whether the need for a high school was being investigated, given the “significant increase in residential development occurring in the area,” Mason said.

The petition was presented to Parliament on June 3.

Kanongata’a-Suisuiki agreed to table the petition on their behalf.

A 34-page document created by Mason for the Ministry of Education was also read. It contained the many reasons why a high school was needed, crucial information and statistics in support.

Bell and Fulljames accompanied Mason to Parliament to send off the petition.

It has since been referred to the Petitions Committee which has requested the petitioner (Mason) to send a written submission. She will present a copy of the report to the Petitions Committee, along with letters of support from the area’s primary school principals, the area’s Police Inspector and other local community organisations.