Hundreds of teachers have passed a motion of no confidence in
Education Minister Hekia Parata at a rally in Christchurch
An estimated 1000 people raised their hands when the motion
was put to a vote in the wake of Ms Parata's proposed
education shake-up in the region.
The teachers are marching on the local Ministry of Education
office to deliver the message. Trains have been halted as
they march about 500m from the CBS Canterbury Arena.
They are protesting against proposals to close 12 schools and
merge six. Seven schools will shut by next January, despite
assurances from the Ministry of Education that children could
stay until 2015.
The final decisions will be made in late May.
The arena was filled with teachers, members of the public and
children, waving placards and shouting, "More break for our
city" and "Hey Hekia, leave our kids alone".
They also chanted, "Hek no, she must go", and "Hekia Parata,
hear our voice, we want options, we want choice".
A board of trustees member of Central New Brighton, which
would close under a merger with North New Brighton, supported
calls for Parata to go.
"We're very angry," he said.
"The real kick in the guts was firstly being told we could
stay open till 2015 or 2016, and now it's the end of the
"Hekia Parata doesn't know the schools of Christchurch."
The motion was put forward by local members of teaching union
They are demanding that Ms Parata commits "to moving forward
in an engagement that is credible and respectful".
National president Judith Nowotarski said educators are very
concerned about the pace that the Government wants to impose
the changes on Christchurch children and educators.
She described the process the Ministry of Education had gone
through as being "botched and disrespectful".
"The minister will have to go forward in a much more credible
and respectful manner than she has shown in the past," Ms
The Government has been "deaf" to Christchurch schools, she
added. The closures were driven by "political expenditure"
rather than what was best for pupils, she said.
The feeling among the schools was a mixture of hope and
anger, she said, adding: "Hope, the Government never, ever
treats school communities like this again."
Southbridge School principal Peter Verstappen opened the
rally by warning Ms Parata that "there's a long way to go on
this journey yet", and that teachers would fight the
Green Party education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty
attended the rally and said the party wanted to support
teachers, parents, and children who were being "dictated to".
"We're looking in vain for a consistent logic. We can't
understand why small schools and intermediates can't play a
vital role to play in a rebuilding Christchurch."