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Wednesday, 19 September 2018 03:20 pm

Karori crowds determined to save uni campus for community

May 10th, 2016 | By | Category: Editor's Picks, Front Page Layout, Lead Story, News

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The meeting filling up at Allen Ward VC Hall.

Ako Pai Marae at Victoria University’s Karori Campus is looking sad, says a member of a Facebook group dedicated to saving it for the area.

“At the moment it is abandoned and it looks really sad to see it like that,” Veronica Raukawa told a meeting of local residents.

Raukawa was encouraged by people who offered support after she spoke.

The local resident of 18 years has concerns about the future of the marae so she joined more than 300 people at a meeting organised by the Karori Association and Victoria University.

After the meeting she received support from the community, on the Ako Pai Facebook page and in person.

“I came home with a pocket full of cards and now I am trying to put faces to the cards.”

She describes her speaking at the meeting as overwhelming.

The Ako Pai Marae on the Karori Campus

The Ako Pai Marae on the Karori Campus

“I haven’t felt like I’m alone in this.”

She says the meeting went well, with the reactions and support she has received being good.

She has given a document to the university to explain the marae’s situation and its significance to the Maori community in Kaori and the western suburbs.

She is waiting to hear the outcome.

“The best I can do is hope and pray”

The positive response was echoed by Lesleigh Salinger, the chair of the Karori Association.

Salinger has lived in Karori for the past 13 years and said the meeting was a chance for those interested to put their case forward and listen to all the concerns around the potential sale of the campus.

“There is a lot of passion in the community about the campus. If it wasn’t a well-run meeting it could have become a shouting match,” she said.

She told the meeting she was concerned about the lack of secondary schooling.

“As the largest suburb in New Zealand there is no secondary state college. Just over 7000 students study outside of the suburb,” she said.

The Karori Association is waiting to hear back from the university and will be following up with them for another public meeting.

 

Karori Campus meeting leaves the future of the campus uncertain.

The Ministry of Education is adamant there will not be a secondary school in Karori.

There were not the numbers to justify a college, ministry officials told a meeting of Karori residents concerned about the future of the Victoria University campus.

Ministry representative Suze Stowger also said the transfer of land to the university in 2015 for $1 was not a mistake.

Lesleigh Salinger, chair of the Karori Association who ran the meeting, said the ministry looked uncomfortable answering questions, something that was evident to a passionate crowd of more than 300.

Local people voiced their concerns to the Ministry of Education, Victoria University and the Wellington City Council.

Mark Loveard, chief operations manager at the university, acknowledged the significance of the campus to the community, being a Karori resident himself for the last 21 years.

“The faculty isn’t just at the heart of the community, it’s actually part of that heart of the community,” he said.

The front of the abandoned campus

The front of the abandoned campus

One of the major discussions Loveard addressed was the campus being surplus to the university’s requirements.

“Not that we have decided to sell it, but to be as open as possible,” Loveard said.

Loveard said the university would be open to selling back to the council.

In response members of the crowd asked if it would be at the same $1 cost that the university paid for it.

Wellington City Council representatives said it was interested in buying back the campus, should the university find it surplus to requirements.

“For a dollar we will absolutely buy it,” Councillor Simon Woolf told the meeting.

“Andy [Councillor Andy Foster] is saying $10 would be okay, but we are going in there with the view that we want to retain the community spaces for the community,” Woolf said.

“The council will be working with the university and the Ministry of Education to make sure that that happens.”

Victoria University repeated that it had not made a decision on the campus.

In response, Loveard said that they would be happy to sell it back to the council and the community at market value, which has been estimated to be millions.

He said Victoria University will now look at all options.

“We are likely to make a recommendation and decision hopefully around that September/August timeframe.”

 

History of the campus

In 1969 the teachers college was built.

It was designed by William Toomath, and won architecture awards at the time of building.

In 2005 the Ministry of Education’s teachers college merged with Victoria University’s education department.

In 2010 a policy was passed by the Tertiary Education Commissioner to allow crown assets managed by Tertiary educational institutions to be transferred into their possession.

In either 2010 or 2011 Victoria University started the application process to gain the titles to the land the Karori campus sits on.

April 2 2015 the land officially gets transferred to Victoria University for a dollar.

January 2016 Victoria leaves the campus vacant with its future very much up in the air.

 

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Waghorn and Gray blocks at the Karori Campus

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is a student journalist who is interested in all aspects of news. She has a soft spot for cute and fluffy stories and finds political stories incredibly interesting. You can see her Facebook here: http://bit.ly/2c20faw twitter: http://bit.ly/2gmpB5M
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