Thursday, 21 March 2019


School zones proposed for Mercury Bay Area School

Mercury Bay Area School is considering the introduction an enrolment scheme, meaning only students living in two proposed school zones (one zone for Year 1 - 8 students and a more expanded zone for Year 9 - 13 students) will be guaranteed entrance into the school. MBAS principal John Wright provides more information about the proposal.

Over the last three years, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has been in regular contact with our Board of Trustees around invoking an enrolment scheme to help us manage our roll. There are several reasons why the ministry is keen for us to have an enrolment scheme -

  • To ensure that we, apart from a few exceptions, only have students who live within our enrolment homezones (the place where a student lives with reference to their closest school). In other words, students who live closer to other schools should/need to attend their local school. Having designated zones goes some way to managing the number of students who can enrol into our school.
  • The MoE is charged by the Crown to manage the “network” of schools. This includes ensuring schools have the correct number of classes and infrastructure for the appropriate number of students. Students from beyond a homezone do not bring infrastructure resourcing into a school (classrooms, library, gymnasium, etc), so one of the Ministry's priorities is to ensure that government funding for property/infrastructure is wisely allocated and spent. Staffing in every school is related to the number of students regardless of where they live, so we will always be staffed with the appropriate number of teachers for the students who attend our kura (school).
  • The key focus from the MoE’s perspective is to avoid “overcrowding” as they see it.
  • To ensure the MoE is able to respond to schools that have ongoing roll growth, by providing extra classrooms and more infrastructure.

We have been able to continue to replace many of our old buildings over the last 15 years with more “modern and flexible” learning environments and we have had a number of “roll growth” classrooms at the same time. 

Our roll at the moment is over 1,000 Kiwi students and we only have property for 915 students. I expect we will have 1,035 students as a maximum roll this year, notwithstanding the comings and goings that occur naturally. We are needing to use existing some prefabs that are designated for demolition, but clearly we cannot get rid of them until we get replacement property. This is a significant consideration for the ministry as each new classroom is funded at $300 000 or so and every 20 new students correspond with a new classroom “entitlement." At 1,035 students this will translate into six roll growth classrooms at $1,800,000. So it is a significant financial investment for the MoE to manage.

Hence their ongoing request for us to instigate an enrolment scheme for the Year 1 - 8 and the Year 9 - 13 sections of our school. There are different homezones for these two sections as our neighbouring schools - Whenuakite, Coroglen and Te Rerenga - are Year 1 - 8 schools and our nearest Year 9 - 13 schools are Whangamata Area School and Coromandel Area School.

In considering an enrolment scheme we have needed to look at homezone boundaries. Our two proposed zone boundaries are shown on the diagram on page 2 of this issue of The Informer.

Under our proposed enrolment scheme, all Year 9 - 13 students living in the Year 9 - 13 zone will be entitled to schooling at MBAS and bus transport too if they live 4.8km from our school. Year 9 - 13 students living outside this zone will be ineligible to attend our school, unless they are already enrolled in our school as at 1 January 2019. They will be considered MBAS students for the natural duration of their time at our school.

Year 1 - 8 students living within the proposed Year 1 - 8 zone will be eligible to attend MBAS and will be eligible for bus transport if they live 3.2 km from our school. Those living outside this zone will not be eligible to enrol at our school from 1 January 2019. Students who are already attending our school will be able to continue to attend MBAS for the natural duration of their time at our school.

Once the Ministry has adopted our board-approved enrolment scheme, there will be an opportunity for further discussion around the infrastructure and resourcing we need to deliver the educational outcomes expected for our young people.

There will be opportunities for students living outside our proposed zones to be able to be balloted into our school if there is sufficient space. The Year 1 - 8 ballots will be separate from the Year 9 -13 ballots. Prospective students may be offered a place in MBAS based on the following order of priority -

  • Students accepted for enrolment in a special programme run by our school (eg our Roopu classes).
  • Siblings of current students.
  • Siblings of former students.
  • Children of former students.
  • Children of board employees and children of board members.
  • All other students.

There is a formal process that will be followed during the balloting for places and this will be publicised closer to the time.

Our Board of Trustees has been in touch with all of our neighbouring schools to advise them of our draft enrolment scheme and the proposed implementation timeline by 1 January, 2019). Their respective Boards of Trustees will consider the draft enrolment scheme and get back to us with any queries. We are also intending holding an information evening, which the MoE will run, later in August - the date is yet to be set. In the meantime I would be happy to receive any queries at email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.