'Zero effect': PM speaks to media after protesters crash college opening

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says protesters who gathered outside a new Christchurch high school campus she was opening had "no effect" on the event.

The Freedom and Rights Coalition was behind the protest on Wednesday morning at the new Te Aratai College-Linwood campus on Aldwins Rd.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern poses for a photo with a student. Photo: John Cosgrove
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern poses for a photo with a student. Photo: John Cosgrove
The group shared the protest details on social media with the title: "Emergency Protest 1".

Ardern was greeted by a Pōwhiri at a back entrance to the school and some students were heard calling out "we love you Jacinda" from a classroom window as she arrived.

She slipped by undetected as about 50 protesters waited outside waving flags and signs, with some motorists tooting in support.

They could be heard yelling "shame on police" and "give us our jobs back", while others shouted, "you have destroyed our lives".

There was a heavy police presence outside the school.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Te Aratai College. Photo: John Cosgrove
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Te Aratai College. Photo: John Cosgrove
Ardern spoke to media about the incident saying it had zero effect on the visit. She said she is not worried about protesters showing up to events she attends.

"No, because it isn't wherever I go.

"Look, it's from time to time, but it very rarely has any impact on the events themselves we are a part of.

Protesters have gathered at the opening of a Christchurch high school where Prime Minister...
Protesters have gathered at the opening of a Christchurch high school where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is speaking. Photo: Star News

"It would be a shame to let it detract from, for instance, what was otherwise a very lovely day with a group of school students excited about the reopening of their brand new school."

Decision on Christchurch stadium up to council

Ardern would not say what decision she would like to see made about the future of the planned stadium in Christchurch.

"Ultimately these are matters for council, When the global settlement was worked through essentially the idea was that council would have the ability to manage those decisions.

"And that is still the case. We wanted to get back to a position where there was that sense of return of normality and that the councils were able to really lead on those decisions so these are really matters for them."

Ministers 'don't write directives' over use of te reo - Ardern

Ardern was asked if she was aware of what direction Kiri Allan gave to the Department o Conservation on the use of te reo Māori while she was Conservation Minister.

She said all she has seen is comments from Allan to media that she had not written any directives on the topic.

"It would be up to individual ministers to choose how they're engaging with their officials. I think you'll find for the large part, many just leave that to their government departments and their own way of communicating.

"This is something we don't sit and write directives over, we're much more focused on actually what we are delivering as a Government."

A screenshot of an internal email was shared on social media from a DoC manager who said they were passing on "feedback this week from the minister's office about inclusion of te reo Māori in the material that we send over".

Allan has since called the email an "incorrect articulation".

According to the manager, the minister - at the time Allan - did not want to see te reo used apart from when there was no English equivalent, the whole document was in te reo, and in greetings and sign-offs - which must be in te reo.

-By Georgia O'Connor-Harding

 

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