After months of uncertainty over the future of Nukutere College, the Catholic community and landowners are confident they have secured Catholic secondary education on Rarotonga for the future.
The college issued a media release yesterday saying it would negotiate with the management committee of Savage Lands Incorporated to achieve long-term tenancy on the land so rebuilding sections of the school could begin.
“Relations with the owners are good, and parties are confident of reaching a mutually agreeable position,” the release said.
In recent years, the college has faced two major setbacks, making its future uncertain.
One was the arson attack of 2013, and the other was the expiration of the college land lease in November 2014.
Over the last 12 months the landowners have agreed that the college could remain operating on the land while the Diocese and Catholic community considered their options.
The Diocese itself was simply not in a position to shoulder the huge financial burdens of these challenges, said the college. Its income is modest and largely supported from sources within the Cook Islands.
Conscious that any long term future for Nukutere College would draw heavily on financial support from the Cook Islands Catholic community, the past year had been used as a time for that community to reflect on its own wishes and needs, the release said.
Out of that had come a clear consensus, both from the Catholic community and the general public, that people wanted the college to continue if possible. Initial fund raising and a subsequent monster raffle had been a great success, the release said.
“Considerably more money will be needed moving forward, but the important message was that parents, past pupils and others were supportive of the College and of the financial challenge that has been set.”
In the future the college would be more in the hands of the Catholic community than the Diocese, the release said.
The present College PTA has formed a new legal entity, separate from the Catholic Diocese, known as “Nukutere College Incorporated.”
A number of other private schools are operated as incorporated societies, a structure that gives parents and supporters direct control of the college and the knowledge that the college will succeed or fail according their commitment.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has acknowledged the change in governance structure.
“The special character and quality of education provision remains a focus for the college and as such, government’s support to the school through our private schools funding mechanism remains in place,” said Secretary of Education, Gail Townsend.
“Different governance structures suit different schools at different times. Nukutere College is well placed to be governed by its community of parents and supporters and for them to take ownership of the school’s continued development.”
True to the founding principles of Nukutere College and its proud traditions, the Constitution of the new society sets out that the college will remain Catholic and will be faithful to the Catholic character.
The patron of Nukutere College Incorporated is Bishop Paul Donoghue and the Diocese will continue to support Nukutere College according to its means.
“The 2016 year will be an exciting one for the school” said Nukutere College Incorporated’s chairperson, Munokoa Purea.
“The new school board members, together with the hard working school teachers will make sure our children can carry on their studies in the college, which their parents and past students enjoyed in their time.
“We are confident that our ongoing negotiations with the landowners will have a positive outcome and we thank them for their help and cooperation over the last year.”