But the Green School was the elephant in the room.
“Taranaki, New Zealand schools – many, many, many schools are underfunded. They don’t have great property, they have holes in their roofs, their carpet is a bit messy, and then when a school like the Green School still gets all this money all it can do is cause concern.
“It’s unjust and unfair.”
Bradley said Shaw offered his by-now familiar apology for the “error in judgement”, adding that if he had his time again he’d make a different decision.
Ahead of the New Plymouth meeting, the expectations of Taranaki Secondary Schools Principals’ Association chair Martin Chamberlain were clear.
“We’re hoping, bottomline, for a retraction,” Chamberlian said. “I know the machinery of Government is complicated but anything else is much much less than ideal.”
But he didn’t get what he wanted.
“Ah, no. We found out that technically that was impossible. Government machinery doesn’t have a reverse gear, so this offer was made to the Green School in good faith and that can’t be withdrawn,” he said,
“But what we do know is that it’s gone to [the] Treasury at another level now, and it’s being decided on whether it’s a complete grant or a complete loan, or a mixture of both.”
Chamberlain, who said the meeting was conciliatory in nature, thought the grant should be converted into a full loan at market interest rates.
The Green School has said most of the money was meant to be in the form of loans.
If not anger, Shaw said he could certainly sense tension during the meetings.
“It was more sort of frustrated – and kinda disappointed. And really looking for, ‘how do we try and make sure we do actually upgrade and restore and replenish our school estate around the country’?”
He thought his apology went down well.
“Look, they really appreciated it. One of the things one of them said was that obviously politicians make mistakes all the time but they don’t often apologise for it, so I think that was appreciated.”
Negotiations are ongoing between Crown Infrastructure Partners and the Green School to decide what shape the funding will eventually take.