NZEI Te Riu Roa is urging Auckland Council not to close the council-owned Kauri Kids early childhood centres.
Auckland City Council will vote on a proposal to cease providing the services at the council’s annual meeting on 15 December, as part of a wider suite of proposed cuts to facilitate a lower rate increase for residents.
“This is worrying for the nearly 350 tamariki and their whānau who attend the Kauri Kids centres at 10 sites across the city, and all of the teachers who now face uncertainty about the future of their centres,” said NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford.
“Tamariki and whānau should not have to lose access to their much-loved and essential early childhood centres, as well as the communities that have formed around them"
“It is sad to see that this essential public good is facing cuts while other Council-owned facilities like golf courses, which incur annual losses of over $160 million a year, remain untouched.”
An anonymous Kauri Kids teacher says staff feel shocked after being told that the future of their centre will soon be put to a vote.
“We don’t know whether we need to start looking for jobs or just wait. We’re wondering how we can enjoy Christmas now? We have mortgages to pay, we have kids, and this is putting pressure on our wellbeing.
“During COVID-19 we were essential and were coming into work every day with our families at home, but now the Mayor has just decided we’re not essential just because there are other centres around?”
Kauri Kids centres are a low-cost option for whānau and if the Council vote to lease the sites to another operator, this could mean a move away from the not-for-profit model.
“Parents are really angry. We are in a low socio-economic area and this centre has been here for more than 25 years, what our centre offers is incredibly special,” the teacher says
“Our families won’t be able to afford it if a big corporate takes over. This centre is all about the community, it’s not about money-making for us.”
There has been an outpouring of concern from parents online with one parent saying: “This is such sad news! My daughter attends Kauri Kids Birkdale and is absolutely thriving at this centre! All the staff are amazing and provide such a safe place for all the children to be. It would be devastating if they closed our centre and all the others.”
Notes to editors:
- Kauri kids has 346 licensed places across its 10 centres, half located in South Auckland and half on the North Shore.
- 13% of tamariki are Māori, and 10% are Pasifika.
- For the financial year 2021/2022 the service operated at a loss of $0.2 million (the total loss which includes assumed rent costs is an estimated $1 million).
- The centres will be receiving additional funding from January 2023 as they have opted in to extended pay parity.