Selwyn MP blames Labour for Rolleston College campus cuts

Nicola Grigg at a recent Selwyn Children's Day. PHOTO: FACEBOOK
Nicola Grigg at a recent Selwyn Children's Day. PHOTO: FACEBOOK
Selwyn MP Nicola Grigg has broken her silence over the Rolleston College development controversy, saying it’s the previous government’s fault.

She also says her no-show at a recent community meeting she was invited to by Rolleston College principal Rachel Skelton was because she is on maternity leave.

National MP Grigg went public on her Facebook page.

“As a colleague said to me recently, we have inherited a great, steaming pile of the proverbial from the Labour government,” she posted.

The post came days after she refused to answer questions from Selwyn Times over not attending the community meeting and whether she would promise to get the rebuild on track given she campaigned in the lead-up to the election on the issue.

“I was unable to attend the recent public meeting at the college as I am on maternity leave and evenings are all but impossible for me at the moment as I’m sure any parents of a 10-week-old baby will understand,” Grigg said on Facebook.

Grigg’s office said she will be on maternity leave until mid-way through the year.

Skelton told the Selwyn Times she understood Grigg not attending the meeting.

“Nicola called me three times in the week leading up to the meeting so I can respect that,” Skelton said.

The school had invited Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, Education Minister Erica Stanford and Grigg to the meeting, all of whom declined. 

Earlier this month it was revealed the college would have stage one of its second campus pared back by the Ministry of Education. Skelton said there was “no appetite” or commitment to progress stages two and three.

Skelton rebuked Grigg blaming the previous government. She said it was time for the National-led coalition to stop blaming its predecessors.

“Whether the perception is you’ve inherited an issue or not it doesn’t matter,” Skelton said.

In her Facebook post, Grigg said: “We need to be very clear though, the Government has NOT ordered the pause or cessation of any school building projects – in fact, funding fit for purpose school infrastructure is our priority.

“Since becoming government, and gaining access to ministries and their operations, the 

massive fiscal and infrastructure deficits left by the previous government have become painfully clear.”

Some people commenting on Grigg’s post did not agree.

“I’m amazed this statement has taken two weeks to be released. Your government is usually much quicker to make excuses and blame someone else,” one person wrote.

“It’s nice to finally have a response to this huge issue, I’m sorry but maternity leave . . . doesn’t justify the long time this has taken for you to address this huge issue in our community – the blame game is more draining to listen to once again,” another wrote.

Last week, the school held a community meeting where Skelton said emotions ran high.

“There were some people who were emotive and upset about the changes being proposed,” Skelton said.

Head student Mackenzie Wills broke down at the meeting as she revealed the impact the school’s rapidly growing roll was having on her education.

“I have experienced sitting in hallways, learning in science classes for classes that are not science. I have experienced so much overcrowding – being put in small, confined spaces with 60 learners. It’s not been an ideal experience,” she said.

More than 2700 people have signed a petition opposing the decision to scale back the development, and the college said it had received more than 100 letters of feedback from those in its community.