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Complaint shuts down pre-school

Scuola Montessori childcare centre on Ngaumutawa Rd in Solway has been shut down after an anonymous complaint.

In an email sent to parents and seen by the Times-Age, the Masterton centre’s operators said its license has been suspended by the Ministry of Education [MoE] after it was “deemed to be non-compliant in four areas, relating to our child protection procedures and policy”.

“We will be working closely with the MoE to resolve this unsatisfactory situation,” the email read,” but [we] regret we can no longer offer our childcare facility till further notice.”

The letter asked parents to contact the centre if they wished to collect their child’s belongings.

MoE Wellington regional leader Nancy Bell said the preschool’s license was suspended on Thursday after several areas were identified as not meeting licensing conditions. Issues identified included not meeting requirements for staffing ratios, health and safety, and child safety.

The centre cannot operate until the licence suspension is lifted.

“We have provided the service with a full list of non-compliance issues identified, as well as material to share with parents,” Bell said.

“We have asked it to provide this material by August 24. If the service submits this evidence earlier, we will prioritise re-assessment.”

A parent with a child at the centre who wished to remain anonymous told the Times-Age that all parents were told to collect their children at 1pm yesterday.

“We didn’t know why, we didn’t know how long it’s going to be closed for; we’ve had no communication except that they’re non-compliant under the child protection policy, which is really serious,” the parent said.

“There’s no transparency; we don’t know what we’re dealing with.

“We’re all furious.”

The centre has been communicating with parents via the teachers because the owners, David and Lorraine Mercer, are on holiday in Bangkok.


“We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place because there are no other vacancies in Masterton for children at such short notice, and there are 48 children,” they said.

“It’s really concerning.”

The Times-Age tried to contact the owners for comment but received no reply by print deadline.


  1. INCORRECT INFORMATION – Wairarapa Montessori Preschool on Lincoln Road is open from 8 AM to 4 PM throughout the year (except for the Christmas New Year period). We are open during school holidays. Wairarapa Times Age: You need to correct this immediately. You quoted an ‘anonymous parent’ who gave you wrong information but you should have gone to our website to confirm the opening hours.

    It is also important for parents to realise that unlike Scuola Montessori, Wairarapa Montessori Preschool does not have trouble with staff / child ratio, in fact we have more staff than is required and our staff have stayed with us for years ensuring a stable environment. We are also locally owned, not part of a large preschool chain controlled from outside our region, and have been established for 27 years.

    – from Steve Lee, owner / administrator, Wairarapa Montessori Preschool

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Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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