Tuturumuri School no longer has any pupils. PHOTO/FILE 

CHELSEA BOYLE

chelsea.boyle@age.co.nz

A rural Wairarapa school is facing an uncertain future after the last of its three pupils left.

The Ministry of Education has confirmed that as of the start of this term there were no names left on the Tuturumuri School roll.

The situation means the country school’s future is under serious threat, with a South Wairarapa district councillor describing it as “very sad for the district”.

Ministry spokeswoman Katrina Casey said the three pupils who attended the school last term had left to go to a bigger school in the area.

“While there are several families with school-aged children in the area, these families have all chosen to attend larger schools.

“That’s why at the end of August this year, the principal got in touch with us seeking advice on the next steps for the school.”

There were no known future enrollments, she said.

“The New Zealand School Trustees Association (NZSTA) and our staff have had a number of discussions with Tuturumuri School’s board chair about the school’s future.

“The board is now consulting with the Tuturumuri community on the future of the school.

“The board ran two community meetings in late September and early October with a third community meeting expected to take place this month.”

The next meeting would be attended by an independent facilitator.

“We are expecting the board to write to us with a recommendation in December.”

South Wairarapa deputy mayor Brian Jephson said that if Tuturumuri closed it would be a huge loss to the community.

“All country schools are going through this unfortunately, that’s just the way things are now.

“It’s pretty hard for them.”

But schools are the hub of every rural community, he said.

If employers want to employ people with young families then “it’s a real hassle” without a local school.

There will still be people who want to see it stay open “but if you haven’t got pupils there’s not much you can do”.

“Unless you get a truckload of kids coming in it doesn’t sound good I’m afraid.

“It’s very sad for the district.”

In September, chairman of the school’s board of trustees, Mike Firth, said they were running out of ways to attract people back to the isolated rural area.

They were trying everything in their power to get numbers back up, but having such a small roll made it even harder to draw people in, he said.

“We’ve lost quite a few this year alone to different circumstances.

“We had a couple of families, one worked at Greytown and one at Martinborough, and the logistics of having someone home at 3pm each day didn’t work, so they now go to school in town.”

Mr Firth did not respond to requests for comment on the latest development.

Tuturumuri School opened in 1923 with a roll of six and was closed in 1947 due to a lack of pupils, but re-opened a few months later.