Christchurch / Canterbury Schools

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Double Standards – Hekia Patara, Wairua Charter School and the Christchurch Schools Closures

FDouble Standardsor those still feeling the sting of the Christchurch school closures, there is a sense of astonishment at the double standards at play when it comes to charter schools.

It seems there is one rule for one and one for another, and never the twain shall meet.

Not sure what I mean? Well, let’s compare Hekia Parata’s treatment of Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school with the closed and merged Christchurch state schools.

Hekia’s Double Standards

WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL:  Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school has a falling roll and is down to just 39 pupils, despite its contract stating it must have a minimum of 71.   Hekia Parata keeps it open against ministry advice and gives additional money.

CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: Phillipstown had over 160 students.(4) At least one of the other schools had a growing roll. Hekia merges Phillipstown and closes or merges other schools, arguing that falling rolls meant they were too small and too costly. One of the merged schools is already reported to already be overcrowded.

WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Communities and professional bodies have grave concerns about the school, but Hekia decides to keep the school open.

CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: Communities and professional bodies spoke up for the schools and fought to keep them open (5) but Hekia decided to close or merge almost all of them.

WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school was given a 28 closure notice in February. It continued until late July, and has been now been given until October to improve. Kept open repeatedly.

CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: Branston, Linwood and Manning school closures were all brought forward significantly, despite promises by Ministry to the communities that they would be remain open for another school year or more.  Closed by Hekia, and sooner than promised.

WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Ongoing reports of poor attendance, bullying, drug use and management infighting. (2) School kept open by Hekia.

CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: No concerns about management or student health and safety. Schools closed by Hekia.

WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: The Ministry of Education, ERO and Deloitte’s audit have all deemed Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school to be failing. this school has again been kept open.

CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: All of the schools were considered good schools. Some were outstanding. These schools were closed and/or merged.

WAIRUA CHARTER SCHOOL: Very low levels of achievement – only one student reported to have gained NCEA, out of 49 put forward.(1) School kept open by Hekia.

CHRISTCHURCH STATE SCHOOLS: Students achieving well. Schools closed by Hekia.

Stark double standards

Time and again we saw these Christchurch schools being given no leeway by Hekia – no time for their communities to settle post-quake and no consideration for distressed staff and students coping with ongoing quake trauma. Decisions were made in a cold, clinical and often seemingly heartless way.

In stark contrast, Hekia is reported to be genuinely concerned about the pupils at Te Pumanawa o te Wairua charter school.  That is to her credit. But why the difference in treatment?

No matter where you stand on charter schools, it’s pretty clear that Hekia Parata is bizarrely unfair when it comes to her treatment of different types of schools: Ideology is clouding her judgement.







Further reading/viewing:

New school on site of closed Linwood school

This weekend the special character school, Te Pā o Rākaihautū, opened in its new site, having been in a different temporary location since opening in January.

It may well be a marvellous school – it certainly looks interesting, and I’ve no reason to think it’s anything but good. That’s not what raised my eyebrows. No.

What made me look twice is that it is on the former Linwood Intermediate School site. You know, one of the schools closed by Hekia Parata.

An article about the school quotes Rangimarie Parata Takurua. as saying:

“Linwood Intermediate was closed after the earthquakes and I came upon the buildings quite by chance,”

The Christchurch schools closed by Hekia Parata

Christchurch schools closed by Hekia Parata

Really?  Is there an educator in Chch that doesn’t know the name of every school forcibly closed by Hekia Parata?

And this from Rangimarie Parata Takurua, cousin of the person that closed the school…

Which was in the media for months…

But she came across it “quite by chance”? ** (Update, I am informed that “Although Linwood Intermediate was closed by the minister the site was reopened in January 2014 for another school that was found to have a black mould problem 7 days before that school was due to reopen for the year. That school returned to their original site Easter 2015. The chairperson of Te Pā went to a fitness class, when it was occupied by the other school, and then proceeded to question MOE of it’s availability.”) Source

The article then quotes Rangimarie Parata Takurua as saying they:

“worked hard with the Ministry of Education to secure [the site]”

Can you see the Ministry putting up much of a fight to give Hekia Parata’s cousin the school site she wants? Perhaps they did…? (UPDATE: the new information above raises a new question  – given the Linwood Intermediate site was deemed to need over $3 Million of repairs to be fit for use, how come two schools have used the site since Linwood was moved out? Was it not as damaged as claimed?)

What am I missing here?

As I said at the start of this post, this school may well be fabulous. It certainly sounds good from the article (and people on the SOSNZ facebook page are saying great things about it). The quality of Te Pa is not what I’m querying.

It’s more that something doesn’t seem to sit right when a school is closed due to unsafe buildings and then the site is used by one, perhaps two, other schools. Did the site miraculously repair itself? I’m sure the community that fought so hard to keep Linwood open would love to know.


Related reading:

(Article edited 10.30pm to remove paragraph containing unclear/inaccurate information on which bilingual units were/weren’t eventually closed as per 2012 Stuff article.)

Why close down a great school like Phillipstown? Why indeed…

tui-chch-memeWhen Phillipstown was slated for closure, it had minimum earthquake damage (only to the school hall, and not that serious – in fact the hall is still in use). The roll was growing. The school had and still has good National Standards results. The community loved and still love the school.

This was not a school in decline. But Ministry decided to close it anyway.

Many have asked, what’s going on? Why is Phillipstown being closed? Something here is not quite right.

Bryan Bruce reports,

“I had the privilege of talking with Tony Simpson the principal of Phillipstown School in Christchurch yesterday. You may recall the school took the Ministry to court over the closure of their school and won, yet Hekia Parata has never- the- less decided the school will close in 25 days.

Tony says that while they have been given a lot of data he still does not know the reason for the closure.”

Ministry has never been able to explain adequately why this school is to close. If there were sound reasons, then sad though it is, people might be able to accept it and move on.  But without a genuine and credible explanation for this decision, people feel rail-roaded and unheard.

The community feels bullied.

Another observer noted, incredulously, that:

“Phillipstown does everything research says to change the outcome for low decile students. They are small enough to form relationships, they engage the whole family into the child’s learning, they provide(d) wrap around services so basics like hearing, glasses and shoes were met and their results proved it was working”

Why on earth close a well-performing school with no discernible damage and which has a growing roll and the respect of its community?

shock-horror-hekia-christchurchIt all feels so underhand.

It’s almost as if there is another agenda…..

Of course, when asked to confirm that Christchurch schools she has closed would not be reopened as charter schools, Hekia Parata refused.

And when you add to the equation the fact that charter schools are now encouraged in “areas of growth” (i.e. in place of state schools), we have to wonder what the hell is going on…

~ Dianne

Notes from a visit to Christchurch primary schools four years on, by Professor Martin Thrupp

quake train tracksLast month I was in Christchurch and took the opportunity to visit some primary schools including an intermediate. It happened to be September 4th, four years to the day since the earthquake sequence began.

I spoke mainly to principals and wrote a few notes. They are obviously only impressions from a short visit but I thought they would be useful to share, especially for those of us who don’t live and work in Canterbury.

The first thing to emphasise is that just as ‘The Press’ reported last month that only 10% of the rebuild was so far complete, quake-related problems in schools are by no means over either. Instead they trundle on and on and manifest in different ways over time.

A central problem is that many staff are exhausted after years of dealing with the problems at school as well as their own family and housing problems. As one principal put it, ‘There’s not a lot left in the tank’. It’s been hard for principals to get a proper break too. In the post-quakes scramble for attention and resources they needed to be constantly available at the end of a phone.

I was told that at a recent event for Christchurch schools, the amount and quality of work was down 20% on what schools had submitted in the past. While the pressures have been relentless, those who work in schools don’t complain much. In Christchurch it is unexceptional to have quake-related problems.

On the fourth anniversary of the initial quake, ‘The Press’ reported that babies born that fateful day in Christchurch were thriving. That may be so, but principals reported that many of the children arriving at school over the last few years have presented extra challenges.

Oral language skills have declined, perhaps telling a story of parents being more distracted than usual. Children have also been less independent, suggesting parents being highly protective after the quakes.

With many stresses including anxieties around their children, Christchurch parents have also become more difficult for schools to deal with. Families are less invested in their local schools as many have had to move house permanently or at least temporarily. Parents often can’t afford the school trips and other extras they once could.

There is erratic behaviour and chippy attitudes from some parents that leave schools wondering ‘what was that all about?’ Sometimes parents have gone to the media and had their concerns blown out of proportion or ’spun’ in ways that are not constructive.

It is in the more middle class school settings that these changes are being felt the most. I visited a low socio-economic school on the eastern side of the city where life for families has long been highly uncertain anyway.

For many Christchurch families the way forward in creating social mobility for ones children is not as certain as it once was. Old rules of middle class advantage that had come with living in particular parts of the city are being rewritten. Some schools are closing and others have become unusually oversubscribed as new housing developments have sprung up.

In this situation there is often increasing competition between schools. Zoning and enrolling children from beyond the ‘natural’ catchment of schools has become a concern for many principals. Most are still seeing the ‘bigger picture’ of education in Christchurch but some prefer to mostly focus on what is good for their own particular school.

Adding fuel to the fire is that some schools have been rebuilt with flash new ‘modern learning environments’ while others are going to have to wait years to get the same treatment, or won’t at all.

How do those in Christchurch schools view the Government’s response to the educational problems caused by the earthquakes? As a mixed bag but generally with scepticism.

Putting schools into voluntary clusters was a positive move but one that was overtaken by the ‘reorganisation’ of Christchurch schools. This revealed an appalling lack of consultation and was also a communications fiasco. One principal described ‘watching grown men cry’ as principals realised that they had been gathered together to tell them which of their schools were to be ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ after the quakes.

The Interim Response Fund has worked quite well for getting support with some children with extra needs. But the specialised psychological, speech and language and occupational therapy help that children need is hard to access. The Ministry isn’t seen to have the answers to ‘mainstreaming’ children with special needs yet the McKenzie Special School has been closed.

Some schools have staffing levels guaranteed as their rolls drop off before closure. This is a great arrangement in vulnerable communities. But others don’t have the same deal. It leaves some teachers preoccupied with looking for replacement jobs.

An extraordinary amount of school leadership time has needed to be spent on matters to do with buildings, grounds and services. Prefabs come and go. Classrooms are deemed unserviceable and then suitable. Regular ‘5YA’ funding for upgrading buildings has been discontinued during the rebuild.

I think we should admire the efforts being made in all Christchurch schools and not become overly distracted by the shiny new developments in some of them. The context of earthquake recovery is bringing new opportunities but primary education in Christchurch is unlikely to be out of the woods anytime soon.

The schools still need more support in all sorts of ways.  Extra staffing, more specialist support and more attention to inequities within the educational market that is continuing to evolve in Christchurch would all make a difference.

– Martin Thrupp

Professor Thrupp works at the University of Waikato and has expertise in Social class and education; the impact of managerialism and performativity in schools; school choice and competition; international policy borrowing; contextualised approaches to educational leadership. 

Hekia – acting in good faith…

in good faith - Hekia Parata - Inigo Montoya

Kia Kaha Phillipstown

School closures about saving Hekia, not kids

The National Government’s decision to merge Phillipstown and Woolston
schools is another disaster for Christchurch and proves this Government is
more interested in saving face than in what is best for children, the Green
Party said today.

“Hekia Parata’s stubborn refusal to budge on her closure plans is a
tragedy for the children who fought so desperately for their school to remain
open,” Green Party education spokesperson Catherine Delahunty said.

“This is about Hekia Parata trying to save face after a litany of
back-downs, U-turns and policy failures, but it’s come at the expense of
hundreds of little children and their families.

“The children of Christchurch have become a scapegoat for Hekia Parata’s

“Even in the last few days, evidence has emerged that the second round of
consultation over the closure plans has not been fair, or accurate.

“This is not a ‘new decision’, as the Minister claims. She went in to
this second so-called consultation process with her eyes closed and her mind
made up.

“From the very beginning Hekia Parata lost sight of what was the best
decision for the children of Christchurch and has set out to use the
earthquakes to reinforce her hard right agenda to damage and dismantle public

“If she had really listened, and engaged in proper consultation from the
beginning, the children of Phillipstown and Woolston would have had some
certainty, instead many have found themselves fighting the very person who
should have been working in their interests.

“The Green Party stands with the communities of Phillipstown and Woolston
and wishes them well in their attempts to do what’s best for their kids,”
Ms Delahunty said.


The List: What National has done to New Zealand education

It is astounding the list of wrongs done to the Kiwi education system in a few short years.  I’m not exaggerating – it is just beyond belief.  To the point that when I try to think of it all, my head hurts and a thousand conflicting issues start fighting for prominence rendering me unable to sort through the spaghetti of information and in need of a big glass of Wild Side feijoa cider.

I live and breathe this stuff, and if I find it bewildering I can only imagine what it does to the average parent or teacher, grandparent or support staff.

So I am truly grateful that Local Bodies today published a post listing the long list of things public education has had thrown at it since National came to power.

This is the list.  It needs to be read then discussed with friends, colleagues, family, teachers, students, MPs and the guy on the train.  Because this is it – this is what has been thrown at education in a few short years.  It is no overstatement to say that New Zealand Public education is under attack.

Take a breath, and read on:

A National led Government was elected and New Zealand’s public education system came under heavy attack:

You can add to the list the change to teacher training that allows teachers to train in 6 weeks in the school holidays and then train on the job in one school without varied practicums, just as Teach For America does to bring in low cost, short term, untrained ‘teachers’. (Coincidentally great for charter schools, especially those running for profit.)

The full Local Bodies article is here.  It is well worth sharing and discussing (share the original, not this – the full article is better)

Please be aware that what has already gone on is just the preamble to far more extensive measures getting increasing more about Milton Friedman’s “free market” than about good, equal, free public education for all.

Unless you want NZ to descend into the horrors being seen now in England and the United States, you need to act.  How?

  1. Speak up. Talk about the issues with others – encourage them to think about what’s going on and what it means in the long run;  and most importantly,
  2. Vote.  VOTE.  Definitely vote. And encourage everyone you know to vote, as well.

Because three more years like this and the list above will look like child’s play.

~ Dianne

one person stands up and speaks out

Ravitch - public schools under attack

Education Minister & Ministry: Ombudsman Unimpressed

The Ombudsman’s annual report is out, along with a summary in the Office’s spring newsletter, and it makes for some rather disconcerting reading.

OIA - Official InformationTo my mind, it speaks volumes about the workings of this current government that the Ombudsman’s Office is dealing with “a 29 percent increase in complaints and other work coming in compared with the previous reporting year”

and that the Office “received and completed the highest ever number of complaints and other contacts about state sector agencies.”

Add to that the fact that “Official information complaints increased overall by 92% this year” and you have yourself something to seriously ponder over.

The complexity of the issues regarding the way Christchurch school closures and mergers have been dealt with is such that the Ombudsman has had to extend its review period in order to gather all the relevent information:

“Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem is continuing her investigation into the way in which the Ministry of Education undertakes consultation on school closures and mergers. 

While the information gathering stage is mostly completed, and many affected schools have taken the opportunity to meet with investigators assisting the Chief Ombudsman, the complexity of the issues have necessitated an extended period of review. Dame Beverley is currently working with the Ministry of Education in order to assure herself that she has all information needed to form robust conclusions. This requires a number of further meetings and interviews with key Ministry staff.

It is important to bear in mind that any aspects of the processes which occurred at the Minister’s direction, including actual decisions about individual schools, are outside the scope of the Chief Ombudsman’s investigation. Rather, the focus is on whether, over a range of closure and merger processes, the Ministry undertook fair and meaningful consultation within the confines of its role.”

Also of interest is the Ombudsman’s findings on the government’s refusal to release funding information relating to charter schools.  With a swift rap on the knuckles, the Ombudsman points out that, seeing as the decisions about how charters would be funded had been made when the request was made, there was no good reason to withhold the information.

Good to know the government is working honestly and openly for the good of all New Zealanders, isn’t it…  Tui.


More privatisation of public education.

Education about people, not profits

The National government’s agenda to corporatize and privatise the education system is becoming clearer by the day, Labour says.

“Not content with introducing privately run charter schools, the Government is now considering using Public Private Partnerships for all of the school rebuilding work required in Christchurch,” Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins said.

“Clearly there is no limit to the National Party’s profit-making ambitions when it comes to education. They’re even willing to use the Canterbury earthquakes as an excuse to corporatize and privatise schooling.

dollars“PPPs will take the power away from local communities and hand it straight to private and corporate interests. They will see money that should be going into education instead being paid out in shareholder dividends.

“Decisions around school rebuilds should be based on what’s best for education, not what’s going to maximise profits for the private sector,” Chris Hipkins said.

Labour’s Associate Education spokesperson Megan Woods is concerned that local schools in Christchurch are being shut out of critical decisions being made around the rebuild.

“Hekia Parata made it very clear in Parliament today that the local Christchurch community will have no right of veto over the use of PPPs for school rebuilds.

“It’s yet another example of people in Christchurch having central government decisions imposed on them without ever having the chance to have a meaningful say.

“Our local communities in Christchurch could end up with new buildings they have little or no control over the use of. That is not right,” Megan Woods said.

Christchurch population grows, so why the school closures?

Further evidence Christchurch education plan driven by ideology

Census figures showing that more than half the communities in Christchurch facing school closures have grown in population is further evidence that the government’s plans are based on ideology, not what’s best for children and communities.

NZEI National President Judith Nowotarski says the government has clearly  rushed its flawed plans for Christchurch education.

“This once again points to what we have been saying all along – that Christchurch children are being used as guinea pigs for a radical shift in education.

“Decisions on things like supersized schools – putting years 1-13 on one campus – along with the excessive number of mergers and closures have been made for political and ideological reasons rather than educational ones.

“It’s clearly something the government would like to roll out in other parts of the country

“NZEI, along with many other organisations, has asked the government on numerous occasions to support the current needs of Christchurch children and to slow down the changes.

“Instead, this radical overhaul is being pushed through before any heed is taken of the population trends or the real needs of Christchurch children and their families.

“Once again we ask the government to stop using Christchurch as an experiment and to go back and start the consultation process again, and this time do it properly, based on the needs of Christchurch children and their families, not on an ideological experiment.”

The John Banks School for Errant Maori and Polynesian South Auckland Lads (Ltd)

St John of Banks

School Logo?

Dear John,

So yesterday, June 4th 2013, the Education  Amendment Act 2012 was passed and charter schools became legal in New Zealand.  Nice work.

It was a good move to get your pal Catherine Isaac to chair the panel so they could ignore all advice and submissions and push them through.  Clever.

And a big high five for getting The Maori Party to fall for it.  Hahahaha, I did have a good titter at that one.

Somewhere in Epsom...

Somewhere in Epsom…

So funny that they forgot that you  said quite proudly on TV that If we continue the bankrupt response of just paying young Polynesian, young Maori men in South Auckland the dole to sit in front of TV, smoke marijuana, watch pornography and plan more drug offending and more burglaries, then we’re going to have them coming through our windows regardless of whether we live in Epsom or anywhere else in greater Auckland.” 

Pfffst, it’s not your fault if they forget stuff like that.

Anyway, I’ve heard that every Maori or Polynesian man in South Auckland is stoked to hear you are so keen to save them, so let’s get cracking and set up this school.

The John Banks School for Errant Maori and Polynesian South Auckland Lads (Ltd)

Now I know what you’re thinking, John.  You’re worrying that you don’t have any background in education.  But it’s okay – you don’t have to been trained in education to run or work in charter schools.  No, nothing at all.  You just have to convince the panel to say yes to your plan, and seeing as we’ve got Catherine and Hekia in our pockets, we’re in!

Lucky that, eh John?

You can make up your own curriculum, your own school day and term times, hire some warm bodies to pretend to be teachers, and make a killing!

I’m thinking we could just print some lesson plans off the internet and get nice looking people to teach those.  That should be quite cheap.

The poor South Auckland lads will never notice, anyway – far too drugged up.  No it’s true, I heard a prominent politician say so on TV.

money showerAww Thanks Di, it’s a lovely idea – but is there any money in it?

Oh yes, John, there really is!

We get a nice handout from the government of hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up the premises – and we don’t have to return a red cent of it if we close the school.  Bonza.

I think we should maybe choose one of those well kitted out schools in Christchurch that are about to become available.  I’ve heard one of them has a $1 million plus upgrade just 2 years ago, and I bet we can get it mega cheap.  We can always say we don’t want them just sitting there like those schools in Invercargill, eh?

What else?  Well the students will be funded as decile 3, and the funding for things like special needs and ICT won’t have to be spent on those things so we can with that whatever we like!  We don’t need to bother with those pesky tricky things Dyslexia or Autism or speaking Te Reo or Samoan or anything.  Yeah, nah, just filter out anyone hard to teach like lots of the US charters do, and we can keep the cheaper kids.  The public system can get the more difficult ones back – that’ll be a hoot.  Take that trained teachers.  Hahaha.

Oh lord, I just thought, what if we get hungry kids?  Can you get your staff to whip up some eggs bene for them to share? No?  Oh man, well best get that Weetbix lined up, then.  But still send the eggs –  we claim that on expenses. I doubt we would we have to declare it, eh?

CBEMoney money money … it’s a rich man’s world

Ooooh I’ve had another great idea…  We could hire ABBA to teach the kids.  Oh, no, sorry I got a bit off track there.

This is what I was really thinking.  Maybe we could call this principal in the UK who used school money to hire her mates, claimed expenses more than once from different organisations, gave contracts to businesses she was close to, and used funds to pay for taxis costing well over $6000.  She’d be able to give us tips for making the most of those tax dollars!

It’s okay, we can do all that and everyone will still think we are fabulous.  I mean to say, that teacher was named head teacher of the year at the 2007 Teaching Awards and appointed CBE, so all good, I’ll get our people to talk to her people.

If she’s unavailable, we could call the Charter Schools guys who conned US$17 million of taxes from Oregon.  They were even more cunning because they pretended their schools were not for-profit (aww bless their faux charitable socks) and “ran a chain of taxpayer-funded charter schools under the guise of a nonprofit named EdChoices, “submitted false, incomplete and misleading records about how many students were enrolled in the schools and how they were spending the state’s money.” ”  Cunning.



What if we’re rumbled?

No, don’t worry about what to do if we’re caught out.  When charter school fraudsters are investigated they don’t hang about.  Once the cash cow is rumbled we can just close the school like these guys.  It’ll leave students and teachers with nowhere to go, but overheads gone! Easy!

We would be investigated, but you could nudge the police not to investigate this one, either.  You seem to be good at that.

Try not to be like these guys, who get caught AND prosecuted, though…

Man alive! Google threw me 2.8 million hits for “charter school fraud” so we’d have to be careful in case anyone is onto this scam.

But no, no, don’t think about that – if anyone tries to get the facts out we can just say it’s all daft leftie mudslinging and get our mate Seal Meat to bash them on his blog.

It’ll be fine – just think of the money!

So what do you think, Banksy?  Shall we do it?  You and me?

The John Banks School for Errant Maori and Polynesian South Auckland Lads (Ltd) ?


Does anyone remember being asked whether we wanted Charter Schools?

“New Zealand democracy at work! Today the politically powerful, the corporate  and the wealthy dominate our society, economy and government. I believe that the charter school debate has become a test case for our democratic rights.SAM_1621

“Over the past weeks thousands of teachers, pupils and their parents, across the country have taken to protest marches against Novopay, charter schools, national standards and other education issues.  Separate marches were held in several towns and cities around New Zealand, including Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Invercargill.  The message coming across loud and clear is that the teachers and parents  of New Zealand are not happy with the National Government’s agenda in relation to education. But instead of the cries being heeded what we actually see emerging is a new reality – and this new reality is being forced upon us. A reality being shaped by the ‘powers that be’ who seemingly care little for the common good and the success of New Zealand and its citizens.

“Those currently making the rules are often the ones breaking those same rules and I think it is fair to say that they have probably never been less representative of the wishes of  the people of our Nation than at any other time in our short history. Their arrogance and indifference is shown clearly through their abuse of power- their policies clearly driven toward attaining power and money and in the process depriving other socio-economic groups of equal opportunity.  

“I find myself deeply saddened and angered by that which I experience in New Zealand today.

“The truth is that in these days even our universities are rarely, if ever bastions of independent thinking, social scholarship and activism. Instead they tend to rely upon either government hand-outs or the favour of corporations and the wealthy for funding. Surely the preservation of equality is worthy of  resisting the forces that would attempt to diminish or destroy it.  There can be no more worthy cause for our traditional institutions and for all of us who care deeply about democracy and the way of life it represents? These deliberate and planned educational changes will have a disastrous impact on us all.”

Read the rest of this very thoughtful article here…


About the author:  Sarah Miles

Hi, I am the author of “The Christchurch Fiasco: the Insurance Aftershock and its Implications for New Zealand and Beyond” I have a diverse educational background having trained and worked in the following fields: law and dispute resolution (mediation); psychology and gestalt psychotherapy; viticulture and oenology. I believe in the multi-disciplinary approach to problem solving and idea creation. My goal is to make my voice heard for the causes in which I believe so as to improve and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable society. I am an experienced international lawyer in the field of corporate and commercial law in a global market. During the past years my husband and I have run a psychotherapy practise in Christchurch. Since the earthquakes our usual business routine has been disrupted. During part of 2011 and most of 2012 I have dedicated my time to writing. It was my intention to expose the insurance industry and its’ actions during Christchurch’s post earthquake recovery. I believe in the enormous power of the human spirit and the power within each of us to effect major change. “The only triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing”. Namaste!


Parata did “a pretty good job” consulting Christchurch schools. Tui.

Why is information being withheld?

Why is information being withheld?

Ach, just when you think you have heard it all, Hekia manages to open her mouth and spew forth another gem.

Despite Chief Ombudsman Dame Beverley Wakem deeming the Christchurch schools closures and mergers consultation process to be questionable enough to warrant an investigation, Hekia is yet again flying in the fact of the facts.

An Ombudsman’s probe last year found the ministry “acted wrongly” in  how it handled official information requests on proposals affecting Christchurch schools.

But there’s nothing at all wrong and nothing to worry about at all, apparently.

No, Hekia says it’s all good:  “Ms Parata says she did everything she could.”

In fact she goes one further and says that the process was ” a pretty good job”.   Source


Run that by me again.

” a pretty good job”


Tell that to the schools, parents and others who tried to get information through the OIA and were fobbed off.

The teachers’ union, NZEI, put out a statement yesterday saying “We also hope the Minister of Education is prepared to listen seriously to the Chief Ombudsman’s findings and engage with Christchurch school communities in a way that is more respectful and credible than in the past.

It’s not looking promising, is it, NZEI, let’s be honest.

And it’s not just Christchurch schools that have been rail-roaded by Hekia and the Ministry – Salisbury School for special needs girls has been treated despicably, too,  and now – having won a court case to halt its closure – is finding the Ministry is employing underhand tactics that will see it close eventually anyway.  Truly, these actions are not just despicable  they are quite possibly illegal, too.

top secretChristchurch schools have to have their submissions in tomorrow.  The inquiry is to be done the second half of the year.  Many commentators have pointed out that the Ombudsman’s investigation could well lead to legal challenges once decisions are announced regarding those schools.

This is no way for a democracy to run.

This is no way to treat our communities, our children, our education staff or our parents.

If there is a true and rigorous reason for a school to close, so be it.  If that is the case then there should be no need for hiding facts, refusing to share information, obfuscation and downright lies.

So why, Hekia?  Why are you treating schools this way?

And who is next?


Anyone who has information relevant to the investigation should contact the Ombudsman:

– Telephone on 0800 802 602,

– File an online complaint at

– Email info@ombudsman.


Read more

 The Press – Ombudsman probe into 5 years of school closures

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Whanau Tahi welcome investigation

The NZ Herald – Ombudsman to investigate Education Ministry’s handling of closures

How to lodge a complaint with The Ombudsman (NZ)

Campbell Live’s investigation into the MoE’s treatment of Salisbury School.

Save Our Schools Christchurch

Christchurch School Closures and Mergers – the video

Christchurch schools are being done over – even those will GROWING rolls are being closed or merged.

You need to ask yourselves why.

Why close so many schools when 15 schools are scheduled to be built?

And while you ponder what is really going on, watch this:

Thank you to Simon Kenny for sharing this with me.

Kia kaha.




Dear teachers, Julia Murphy has a message for you…



Any of you care to respond via here or the Dominion Post?  


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