North Otago teachers gather outside Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean's office in Oamaru yesterday for a national day of action against the National Party policy, Investing in Educational Success. Photo by David Bruce.
Anout 60 North Otago teachers protested outside Jacqui Dean's
office in Oamaru yesterday, but the National Party Waitaki MP
and candidate was not there to hear them.
She did get the message, though, as about 20 posters and
placards were left taped to the window after teachers left.
The protesters joined about 90 at the four MP offices in
Dunedin and another 60 in Invercargill.
The protest was part of national action organised by the New
Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) involving teachers,
principals, school support staff, boards of trustees and
parents over the Government's proposed $359 million Investing
in Educational Success (IES) policy.
Instead, NZEI wants to see the money spent to directly
benefit children in schools.
The protesters met at 7.30am outside MP's offices throughout
New Zealand to deliver letters asking for cross-party support
for education initiatives that will target the real needs of
While NZEI is opposing IES, the secondary school teachers'
union, the Post Primary Teachers' Association, has supported
NZEI's opposition has attracted criticism from Prime Minister
John Key, who said the union was a branch of the Labour Party
and ''playing politics'' with education.
Act New Zealand leader Jamie Whyte joined the criticism on
Thursday, slamming an NZEI notice asking parents to bring
their primary-age children to the protests, saying they were
being used as ''political pawns''.
''This is wrong. What primary school child understands what
it is about? Should they be used as protest fodder in this
way?'' he asked.
He called on all political leaders to condemn in the
strongest terms the campaign by the union to use
schoolchildren to participate in a political protest.
In Oamaru, only four children were among the protesters, all
from families of school staff.
North Otago NZEI delegation leader Chris Mosedale, asked
about involving children, was not aware that was a union
request, and said it had not been made in North Otago.
He also rejected the accusation of being a political arm of
the Labour Party determined to derail National's campaign.
''We can assure you that this has never been our intention
and that, at all times, the needs of students and their
whanau have been paramount in our actions,'' he said.
NZEI national secretary Paul Goulter also denied parents were
being actively encouraged to bring their children to a
''If that happened, it was because parents made that
''It's a bit rich for Act to criticise parents for exercising
a legitimate right to make their views known,'' he said.
During the protest in Oamaru, there were chants of ''Jacqui
Dean, wake up, time to go to work'', along with other slogans
Contacted by the Otago Daily Times, Mrs Dean said she
first heard about the protest when a journalist contacted her
at her office on Wednesday evening.
Her office staff told her on Thursday about notification of
However, she had ''things to do'' at the time of the protest
and could not attend.
IES proposes increasing salaries of middle managers and lead
teachers, with the intention of raising student achievement.
Communities of schools would be established to strengthen
collaboration, with top principals and teachers spending time
out of class to share expertise with colleagues at their own
and nearby schools.