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Plunket back down from plans to shut Wellington crèche amid legal threats from angry parents

Plunket have backed away from plans to shut down a Wellington crèche – at least for now.

A 1 NEWS exclusive reveals more complaints about the spending of NZ’s largest support service for under-fives. Source: 1 NEWS

Angry parents in the capital’s Karori suburb had threatened legal action over plans to close down the service this month.

That decision is now under review while Plunket consults with the community.

Today Plunket chief executive Amanda Malu wrote to families to say the closure plans are now "on hold".

It came after Plunket bosses met with parents, local MPs and councillors last week.

Ms Malu says Plunket will now talk to the Karori community about all the services the charity carries out in the area – and will provide childcare at the centre while they do that.

"We genuinely appreciated this opportunity to listen. We are committed to making fair and informed decisions about our Plunket services in your community," she said.

In a statement to 1 NEWS, she said: "With over 700 Karori families currently using a wide variety of our services we think it’s important we get the broadest view possible of the needs in this community. We are going to listen and consult with these Karori families and other stakeholders to understand how we can best support Karori children."

Local mum Rachael Bowie was cautiously celebrating.

"After coming under a lot of pressure, we are pleased Plunket has finally accepted it needs to do the right thing and consult with the Karori community," she said. 

"While Plunket hasn't yet agreed to keep the crèche open, we're nevertheless hopeful Plunket will take this opportunity repair the damage it has caused to parents, children and crèche staff.

"We're disappointed so many families have been placed under such unnecessary stress over the last few weeks. It is now up to Plunket to now do the right thing and we are looking forward to a full and genuine consultation."

Last month, 1 NEWS revealed how frustrated parents were at war with the charity over a restructure that saw $51 million of assets transferred to their Wellington head office, where executive staff were earning high salaries.

Plunket groups across the country were threatening high court action to have funds returned to their local communities.

National's early education spokeswoman Nicola Willis has been lobbying Plunket over the changes and welcomed the back-down.

She said she believed Plunket genuinely wanted to engage with the community.

"This is wonderful news for Karori, a victory for crèche families and a great decision by Plunket," Ms Willis said.

"There is a lot of goodwill in the community towards Plunket, and today it has lived up to its reputation by doing the right thing.

"I feel for the families who've been caught up in this issue.

"But I hope something positive will come of it. Plunket has clearly learned from this episode and are keen to do better."