There is widespread dismay at the Government’s decision to give nearly $12 million to help an elite private school in Taranaki expand.
Even the Education Minister has said he would not have done it and concedes those at public schools may well find it galling.
According to its website, the Taranaki Green School aims to add "more joy to education and ignite children’s imaginations" through applying a "future-focused curriculum that advocates sustainable impact", costing between $16,000-$24,000 a year for tuition fees, depending on the age of the child.
Associate Finance Minister James Shaw said it would create 200 construction jobs and will allow Taranaki Green School to expand its roll from 120 students to 250 – which could bring in $43m a year to the local region.
The money will come from the $3 billion part of the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund and the school is deemed a "shovel ready project".
The Education Minister Chris Hipkins refused to defend the project today, saying said he would not have prioritised funding for the elite school and said he could understand why those at state schools would find it galling.
National’s Nicola Willis said the Government has serious questions to answer about why this "exclusive private school has been granted such an extraordinary amount of money".
"That is eye-wateringly generous," Ms Willis said.
"Then there’s the Greens’ policy, which opposes public funding for private schools, which makes James Shaw’s cheerleading for this project look especially bizarre."
Mr Shaw is the Green Party co-leader.
Green Party members past and present appear agree with Ms Willis.
Candidate Ricardo Menendez March, ranked number 10 on the list, said the move didn’t align with Green policy.
"The decision by cabinet to give a private school in Taranaki $11.7m to fund an expansion programme doesn’t align with our Greens members ratified policy.
"Personally I’m thankful to those fighting for quality public education holding our Govt and party to account," Mr March said on Twitter today.
"Successive Govts have deprived many public schools of funds & adequate infrastructure. It’s understandable that teachers, parents and those advocating for quality public education would be incensed at so much money going into a private school for the wealthy. We need to do better," he said.
Former MP Catherine Delahunty was also opposed to the funding taking to social media to say, "I cannot support this funding of a private school whatever colour is in the name, public education needs that money, we don’t need shovel ready privilege in education we need public good".
That sentiment also echoed by former Green MP Mojo Mathers who was "furious".
My daughter teaches at a low decile school, more funding for them would make such a difference for the kids who need it the most," she said on Twitter.
Another former MP Sue Bradford wrote, "incredible".
"Just when you think the Greens might be sticking to their principles after three compromising years, Shaw gifts $11.7m to a private school.
"How about job creation with low income schools, rather than a hand out to the scions of green wealth?"