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Taratahi replacement part of reforms

FILE/PHOTO

Crown could purchase home farm

PAM GRAHAM
[email protected]

There will be nothing to replace the collapsed Taratahi Institute of Agriculture in 2019 but Education Minister Chris Hipkins says he’d like to see something in place by 2020.

He expects Taratahi to go to a full liquidation at the High Court hearing next Tuesday and says no one is willing to take it on as a going concern, as has occurred with the Southern Institute of Technology interest in Telford in the South Island.

“At this point I’m not aware of a viable candidate,” he said.

He said it was possible the home farm would operate as a farm during the year while an alternative education provider is identified and as vocation sector reforms take place.

The Government has had talks with the interim liquidator about the home farm but the interim liquidator does not have the power to sell assets or make staff redundant, only to secure assets.

Any sale of the home farm has to be approved by the Minister of Agriculture and the farm also has to be sold to someone who uses it for an educational purpose.

He said there was an opportunity for the Crown through a Crown entity to be the purchaser of the home farm, but he wouldn’t say for how much.

Hipkins and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor met iwi and also the mayors of the region about Taratahi on Wednesday while they were at the Labour Party away-caucus near Martinborough.

Hipkins says there is a major announcement in coming weeks about wide-ranging reforms of the vocational training sector and he hopes the new system will meet the needs of vocational training in Wairarapa and that something can happen for agriculture quickly as part of them.

He talked about centres of excellence but would give no detail because the final decisions have not been made on the reforms.

There were serious governance and management issues at Taratahi over a period of time and “some complacency”, he said.

He got a few emails late last year saying they needed money and took the view that giving them money would only delay the inevitable. The board withdrew its investment plan and called in an interim liquidator.

In the wind-up of Taratahi he understands IRD will rank first, then staff, TEC and the banker. He had no idea whether there would be a shortfall or not for creditors.

He said staff would get what was owed to them and “I know it has been difficult for them”.

Hipkins said Tararahi was a private training establishment therefore the options the Government had available were a bit different to if it was a public institution.

The vocational education system in New Zealand was fragmented with unclear relationships between industry training organisations and polytechnics and the reforms would address this.

He expects a result to be confirmed for Telford soon and if someone put their hand up for Taratahi he would talk to them.

1 COMMENT

  1. Could the government make a decision on Telfords future soon please. Enrolled students need to know what they are doing. Our daughter finished her job this week as she was suppose to start at Telford on Monday. If a decision isn’t made soon she will head to Australia and not train as planned.

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