Members of a small Hokianga settlement are meeting this evening to discuss their concerns over proposals to move their kura away from their community.
The Ministry of Education is proposing to move Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Te Tonga O Hokianga from Whirinaki out to the harbour at Koutu Point, about seven kilometres away.
It's because the school has been granted wharekura status, meaning it can now provide for Year 9 students and above - but the Ministry says there are problems with adding the additional facilities and classrooms to the school at its current site.
Community member Diana Ellis says she doesn't oppose the kura expansion but says there could have been more consultation with the community about ways to keep it in Whirinaki.
"The Whirinaki residents don't want to lose their school, and the Koutu residents don't want a school there."
Ms Ellis said Koutu was mainly a community of older, retired people, and there were no children who attended the school living nearby, nor were there any marae close by.
The Koutu site is right on the water on a dead-end street, and Ms Ellis said there was concern the accompanying sewage treatment plant could cause damaging run-off into the harbour and the nearby pipi beds.
In a letter dated September 10, 2012, Associate Education Minister Craig Foss said the Ministry of Education looked at providing the new wharekura facilities at Whirinaki, in addition to using nearby land and buildings.
"The Ministry considered projected costs, site suitability, potential for growth, security of tenure and Board of Trustees' preferences before reaching the decision to relocate to a new site," he said in the letter.
"I understand the Whirinaki site is subject to flooding which would have made it costly to develop permanent buildings there. The kura would also have faced operational challenges while construction was under way."
A public meeting is being held at the Opononi Hall from 4pm today to discuss the proposal. Hearings are also being held at the Far North District Council chambers in Kaikohe on December 3 and 4.
Independent commissioners would take into account what submitters had to say and report to the Ministry of Education, which would make the final decision on the plan.