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Christchurch / Canterbury Schools, Effecting Change, Government Policy, Protest - Have a Voice

Restoring Education in Canterbury – A Note from Hekia Parata

This was posted by Hekia Parata today, Sunday 16th September, on the blog – do feel free to comment on it:

Restoring education in Canterbury

This week Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and I made some announcements around restoring the education sector in greater Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri.

This has generated a lot of discussion and feedback so I thought it would be useful to take a step back for a moment and put some context around what we have announced.

The National-led Government is absolutely committed to rebuilding Christchurch following the series of destructive earthquakes. That’s why we’ve made it one of our four main priorities for this term.

That’s also why we announced this week that we are investing $1 billion over the next 10 years to restore the education sector in greater Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri.

The education sector, just like everything else in greater Christchurch, has experienced huge disruption due to the earthquakes. Buildings have been damaged and pupils have had to move to other schools and in some cases to other regions, not to mention the emotional toll it has taken on everyone.

I was impressed with the resilience and can-do attitude shown by schools in the wake of the major earthquakes, with some schools having to share facilities and sites in the days and months after the earthquakes until more permanent arrangements could be made.

Since the 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck at 4:35am on 4 September 2010, the Canterbury region has experienced more than 10,000 earthquakes and aftershocks.

The face and makeup of Christchurch has changed – there are new suburbs and developments popping up around the region – and the education sector needs to respond to those changes as well.

Around 75 per cent of the buildings in the CBD have been or will need to be demolished because of earthquake damage. Nearly 7800 properties have been designated in the residential red zone, which means the land is unsuitable for rebuilding on for a considerable period of time. This means there are 7800 households and families who have to leave and rebuild their homes and lives elsewhere.

Greater Christchurch will be rebuilt, there’s no question about that, but it will look different once it is rebuilt and the education sector is no exception.

There are 214 schools in total in the Christchurch, Selwyn and Waimakariri region – and this week’s announcement detailed that 173 schools or just over 80 per cent are not impacted by any closures or mergers.

The other part of our announcement this week was that we are consulting on proposing to close 13 primary and intermediate schools and merge another 18 primary schools.

I acknowledge this news may be distressing for families and local communities and the Ministry of Education will continue to work with and support them during this difficult process.

The people of Canterbury have been through a lot but the Government is totally committed to supporting you through the rebuild and returning the city to the vibrant, strong and exciting hub it was prior to the earthquakes.

A number of the schools we are proposing to close now have fewer than 50 pupils due to the population shift that has occurred following the earthquakes – one of them has just six pupils. Two of these 13 schools have volunteered to close.

There has also been some concern expressed about job losses, which is understandable, but many of the teachers at the schools affected are expected to be reabsorbed into the system through the new schools being built and other job opportunities becoming available because of the growth of other schools in the region.

As for the affected secondary schools in the region, which includes Shirley Boys’ High School, Avonside Girls’ High School, and Christchurch Girls’ High School, we are still awaiting detailed geotechnical information before any firm proposals about their future are made. In the interim we have put some options for these affected schools on the table for discussion, which includes continuing as is, relocating, closing, or merging.

Restoring the education sector in Canterbury is about ensuring the schools are in the right locations and that our children have access to good, quality education within a close distance to where they live.

Retrieved from 16.9.12 at 14.55

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29 thoughts on “Restoring Education in Canterbury – A Note from Hekia Parata

  1. THERE IS NO PROPOSAL TO CLOSE SCHOOLS! YOU HAVE!… where was the proposal to close Richmond?… I saw no such letter.. Communication?… It has been set, in black and white that it is to close in Dec 2012!, there was no consulting. No nothing!,, just a meeting to principles to say what is and what isn’t, so I like many other parents need to find a new school for my child… Who is hurt she has to leave her friends, her teachers who made her feel welcome! ..


    Posted by Mandi Coles | September 16, 2012, 3:13 pm
  2. freeville school roll is over 300 . same as b4 quakes
    replacement building have been brought in and are in use and the school is running fine /
    so why take it away from us ?? u allready taken away half the surounding neighbour hood and our local pool qe2 seriously what next ?
    the school is all our community / kids really has left that is stable well WAS !!!


    Posted by donna | September 16, 2012, 3:23 pm
    • and the ERO report clearly shows how great of a school freeville is!!!!! it’s hard to find a park around school with 300 kids, imagine how it’s going to be with a school of 600 kids!!!!! bloody ridiculous, no thought has gone into any of these decisions at all, it’s all about $$$


      Posted by vanessa | September 16, 2012, 5:53 pm
  3. My concern is that when children have been moved into their large merged schools, the government will then introduce Charter Schools, offering smaller class sizes and close to the communities that have lost their local school. I think this is the way they will get parents to ‘choose’ Charter Schools.


    Posted by Dawn Pollard | September 16, 2012, 3:25 pm
  4. The earthquake is just an excuse to close schools. Our son goes to Shirley Boys High School and it was ok short term to share another school but traveling time and the pm shift at school was a complete nightmare when the rest of the house was working in the morning, it meant no after school activities and we were eating as a family about 8pm, not good in the winter either. No buses were arranged for our side of town by the education board so the boys this side of town were disadvantaged totally. We put up with it as we knew John Laurenson and his team were fighting to get SBHS open again. Part of the school was to be rebuilt anyway because of leaky building problem. If what we hear goes ahead I fear not only for Christchurch I fear for the rest of New Zealand. Vote of no confidence in Hekia Parata!!!


    Posted by Janice Grant | September 16, 2012, 3:33 pm
    • I completely agree with you Janice, the government will start with Christchurch, ensuring their agenda is pushed through and is successful, and then they will try to do it to the rest of the country. I don’t think the average NZer realises that this is part of an ideology that actually has nothing to do with the earthquakes in Christchurch.


      Posted by Dawn Pollard | September 16, 2012, 4:31 pm
  5. 75% of Hekia’s message is nothing to do with schools, simply political double speak. Her language is typical of a prepared speech where there are facts but they are twisted and obscured behind rhetoric. There was very little mention in any of the statements about the special needs children being pushed about all over the place, very little about the bullying of two very successful kura being told they must merge. In fact very little of any use to us here in Christchurch at all. One frightening thing I am already beginning to see on fb and other message boards, the battle lines and divisions are already beginning to show- between those who see what this is going to do to their children, and those who either aren’t directly affected or think that National are on the right track. All I can say to them is wait your turn, the steamroller that is our National government will get around to you later, if not through schools, then the university, polytech, health system, power companies, mines, EQC etc etc.


    Posted by Lesley Muray | September 16, 2012, 4:19 pm
    • You are SO right . I wonder if Hekia ever lies awake at night and wonders why she, a maori woman, is being given the job of dismantling our once great education system. It seems her bosses , Treasury, IMF , Key- and his bankster bosses – are too scared to be seen doing the dirty work .


      Posted by melanie | September 16, 2012, 7:41 pm
  6. The social needs will be horrendous people on low incomes will have to find money for childrens travel and what about the right of the child


    Posted by Brenda Lowe-Johnson | September 16, 2012, 4:41 pm
  7. It doesn’t matter how you sugar coat it, you are getting what you wanted earlier in the year -larger class sizes. You’re just going about it in a different manner. You have NO IDEA what our communities have been through with these earthquakes and you are more than happy to rip apart these fragile communities ust to get what you want. You announced it in a way that left no preparation for principals, therefore no face to face arguement.
    So you say that 13 are ‘proposed’ to close. I think that you have another number of closures in mind, but you announced more initially so that it would appear as though you had consulted with schools and communities when in reality you were never really going to.
    These decisions leave me with NO confidence in our government. It’s bullying.


    Posted by Just.A.Mum | September 16, 2012, 7:36 pm
  8. Close the schools that are damaged and have falling enrollments. OURUHIA SCHOOL DOES NOT FIT IN EITHER CATEGORY!! and as for merging the two public boys high schools….your just having a laugh arent you? Very obviously not a christchurch resident to think thats an option. Woul you close your own childs primary school??? You no you wouldnt. Its not broken…leave it alone before you break our kids!


    Posted by Angie | September 16, 2012, 7:47 pm
  9. Split days in the proposed high school merge will mean the afternoon/early evening learners will not be able to attend dance, music, sports etc. So if you go ahead with such a ridiculous idea, make sure the east side kids get the morning shift aye….no need to kick them when theyre down by taking their school and their outside activities away!


    Posted by Angie | September 16, 2012, 7:58 pm
  10. Hekia…come to the community meeting at Ouruhia Family (sorry, to you its just a disposable school) tomoro nite. Campbell live is.


    Posted by Angie | September 16, 2012, 8:05 pm
  11. If this govt is going to use policies that the british govt have tried why not use the ones they have tried and work their privatization of prisons failed there charter schools failed and yes as always there is a hidden agenda behind this govt policies they are as straight as a 2 bob watch they dont communicate with the people that are affected by their policies they say there will be consultation but will they id take that with a pinch of salt i reckon its done and dusted and any “consultation” will be lip service this govt treats anyone not a high flyer with contempt and disrespect by the way there are other schools not on THE list also saying they are being closed in 2014 so they have more in their bag of tricks to release yet any excuse to give us from CHCH a good going over while we are at our lowest


    Posted by Ian C | September 16, 2012, 8:55 pm
  12. How will you fit a school with an increasing roll (school A), that you want to merge with school B with also increasing roll with higher ‘building damage’ than school A, in together when school B cannot have any more buildings put on it as grounds to small. Will the students be sitting on top of each other in the class room??? Will the repairs be done before they merge, oh no this would be more disruption to the already traumatised kids so lets wait an do repairs once merge done!!! I wonder if the pschycological affects of these young students been taken into account. Increased Mental Health costs perhaps, will more money be put into health to help this for the people of Christchurch?


    Posted by concerned MUM and EDUCATION EMPLOYEE | September 16, 2012, 9:07 pm
  13. this govt is treating the whole country as a business with no concern about people
    just the $ john key get out of the boardroom mentality this is a country people have feelings our kids have feelings start treating ALL people with the respect they deserve and get those ministers of yours to do the same Christchurch deserves better NZ deserves better are you going to supply the trauma councilors back down her for the kids again now the have just started to settle again you break their wee hearts with this latest kick in the guts


    Posted by Ian C | September 16, 2012, 9:37 pm
  14. There are three clear agendas emerging here with Christchurch as the guinea pig. One is to recap a number of Year 1-6 schools as Year 1-8. An example is the merger of Windsor and Burwood to become a Year 1-8. Two is to try a Year 7-13 at Hornby High with Branston Intermediate being given the chop and three let’s try a Year 1-13 as well, merging five schools in the Aranui, Wainoni, Avondale area. It is also worth noting that one of the proposals for the Shirley Boys/Christchurch Boys merger is split shifts so no new classrooms would need to be built.


    Posted by Lynne | September 16, 2012, 9:51 pm
  15. let’s see….. Burnside Primary absorbs Aorangi Primary when the hatchet falls at the drop of a governmental hat. Now Burnside Primary is being closed. Call me cynical (or realistic), this school sits on prime Fendalton real estate…. Coincidence?


    Posted by Angela | September 16, 2012, 9:56 pm
  16. As a social worker who has worked in the past in schools in Linwood, Christchurch I am appalled at the latest announcements of schools closing and combining. The school is the hub of the local community – it is the heart of the community and to remove schools is to remove that heart. Once that heart is removed it will result further in the breakdown of families and safety for children. I am also concerned for families who have no resources, choices and no voice. For them to have the local school close will put a huge strain in simple things like transporting children to school, there are many families who have no transportation and no excess money for bus fares. Secondly I am concerned about the notion of “super schools”. For a five year old to start school is a daunting experience, to go to a school of several hundred children ranging in age from five to eighteen will be even more daunting. For children in middle school to be introduced to behaviours and substances being used by older children will not enhance their lives or help them to maintain their innocence. This government has once again showed that they are not interested in the marginalised……. it is time to call a halt to these decisions that are affecting people’s lives for the worst, it is time for the government to stop the slashing and burning.


    Posted by Diane Banbury | September 16, 2012, 10:11 pm
  17. I wonder if Hekia really understands how important a school is to a community. It is so often a lifeline for families. It holds them up in hard times. It teaches, and inspires families to do their best for those around them . Mothers support mothers. Fathers support fathers.Families support families. ChCh has been hit hard and is still bleeding. Many have lost someone close, have lost their homes and are now losing their child’s school. This will be the final straw for many people.And the very people Hekia thinks she is trying to help will suffer – the children.
    I say to the Ministry – if you have to ( and yes I do see your reasons) then do it very slowly, very carefully, with huge sensitivity and with much consultation. We have lost much respect, trust and confidence in this Ministry.


    Posted by Pip Oliver | September 17, 2012, 1:32 pm
  18. Could Ms Parata please tell me why Yaldhurst Model School is marked for merger when it has a growing roll, it is located on the west of ChCh where many people are moving to (huge new subdivision just down the road) and has no earthquake damage??


    Posted by Janice Stocks | September 19, 2012, 6:54 pm
  19. Could Ms Parata please explain why Yaldhurst Model School is marked for merger when it has a growing roll of over 130, it is in on the western side of ChCh in an area that many people are moving into (large subdivision being developed very close to the school), and it has no earthquake damage.


    Posted by Janice Stocks | September 19, 2012, 7:01 pm
  20. is yaldhurst actually merging it wasnt mentioned on the news


    Posted by scott | February 18, 2013, 12:22 pm
  21. I don’t think so – it is staying open, that much I do know.


    Posted by Dianne - SaveOurSchoolsNZ | February 18, 2013, 2:57 pm


  1. Pingback: One Person Can’t Change Much, Can They? « SaveOurSchoolsNZ - October 22, 2012

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