Home > Social Issues, The Body Politic > Christchurch, choice, and charter schools

Christchurch, choice, and charter schools



National is a Party of choice. National loves to give individuals choice. National hates the idea of  “Nanny State” taking away the individuals’ right of  choice and governments making decisions on their behalf. National believes that  individuals know better than the state.

“Choice is good”.

“State decisionmaking is bad”.

According to National.

Which is why, when National announced it would be adopting ACT’s policy of implementing Charter Schools (in poor areas only – but no doubt that was just a coincidence), choice was high on the list of rationale’s for this policy,


Full Story


Dear Leader John Key stated,

” It’s a step towards more choice, at the end of the day I expect the vast bulk of schools will be the same as they are now.”

See: Ibid

Little Dear Leader, Bill English, parrotted the Party line; Charter Schools offered choice,

Hon BILL ENGLISH: As the member knows, the issue of whether teachers are qualified is being discussed in the context of charter schools, which will offer an element of choice, although a very small element of choice, in the general school system. All other schools will continue to run with registered teachers.

Hon BILL ENGLISH: In respect of the State-run schools, no. In respect of the charter schools, it is an aspect of providing choices for young New Zealanders that are not currently available to them. “

See: Parliament: Questions for Oral Answer

National MP for Maungakiekie, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, repeated the mantra (in case we missed it the first time),

With our Government’s focus on raising achievement for all our students, I see partnership schools as just another option for our parents and students. It will give them more freedom to choose the type of education that best suits their children’s learning needs.

See: Scoop.co.nz – Partnership Schools are Good for High Needs Communities

And the only human member of ACT with high-functioning mental processes, Catherine Isaac, chipped in (as it was ACT policy after all – even though it had never been announced during last year’s election campaign),

Well, what is different is that these schools are going to get greater freedom to innovate, to find different ways of engaging with children who are struggling to learn, and you need more opportunities, more freedom... “

See: Scoop.co.nz – Q+A – Corin Dann interviews Catherine Isaac and Ian Leckie

It is abundantly clear that National’s preference is always; choice. Lots and lots of choice!


When National takes away an entire city’s choice.

Like with Christchurch,


Full story


On 13 September, National announced the closure or mergers of dozens of schools in the quake-hit city of Christchurch. Amongst those closing or merging, according to  NBR and Radio NZ stories on 14 September,

Schools to close include:

  • Aranui High years 1 to 13
  • Aranui Primary
  • Banks Avenue Primary, or relocate depending on geotech report
  • Branston Intermediate
  • Burnham Primary
  • Burnside Primary
  • Chisnallwood Intermediate years 1 to 13
  • Duvauchelles Primary
  • Glenoor Primary
  • Greenpark Primary
  • Hammersley Park Primary
  • Le Bons Bay Primary
  • Linwood Intermediate
  • Manning Intermediate
  • Ricmond Primary
  • Wainoni Primary

Who will merge:

Avonside Girls High will merge with Christchurch Girls High as a “dual shift” or may close depending on geotech report.
Christchurch Boys High will possibly merge with Shirley Boys High as a “dual shift”.
Central New Brighton Primary will merge with New Brighton Primary.
Burwood School and Windsor School on Windsor School site
Discovery One School and Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti as Year 1 to 13 school
Freeville and New Brighton North School
Linwood Avenue School and Bromley School on Bromley School site
Lyttleton Main School and Lyttleton West School
Philipstown School and Woolston School (moving to new site)
South New Brighton School and Central New Brighton School
Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o te Whanau and Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Waitaha

See:  Up to 13 Chch schools to be closed, as many as 18 will merge

See:  13 schools to close, others to merge in Christchurch

The shock news was delivered to a packed meeting of  principles and Boards of Trustees members by these three,


DELIVERING THE NEWS: Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee, Education Minister Hekia Parata and Secretary for Education Lesley Longstone deliver the news.



The proposed closures and mergers would result in hundreds of teachers losing their jobs; thousands of students uprooted and moved; and the remaining  centres of communities – which have lost many of their infra-structure and services – finally eradicated.

The response from many Christchurch education-sector workers, parents, and residents was unsurprisingly one of anger and disgust. It seems that what the earthquakes had begun – National was hellbent on finishing off.

For many, this was an unprovoked, unforeseen, craven attack on their communities,

I state here and now … Shirley Boys’ High School as a school exists and will continue to exist – mark it. There is no way in God’s creation that we cease to exist. (source)

We are not going to merge for the most practical reason. I have 1300 students in the school I think Trevor McIntyre at Christchurch Boys’ will have something similar.

To simply say that Shirley closes and suddenly Christchurch Boys’ High School is equipped to double in size is absurd. They don’t have the land, they don’t have the infrastructure. It’s nonsense. (source)”

– John Laurenson, Shirley Boys’ High School principal

I just don’t understand what’s going on . . . my boy’s got three years left and I didn’t want him to move.

We live nearby and yes, it’s damaged but this is our community so you can’t just pick us up and move us.”

Tracey Dearden, Parent

We’ve got five classrooms at our school, excellent staff doing wonderful things and just can’t for the life of me see why they would want to close Ouruhia.”

” I wonder how many people who were staying so their kids had stability and didn’t have to be uprooted from schools, will now leave and follow all the others to Brisbane… say 20 schools x 500 pupils/school… is a lot of affected families…. “


Men and women are in tears at the possibility of losing their jobs, their schools and communities.

Schools are the focal point of their communities. Schools are identified by the names of their community. Families now have to gravitate, take their children to other places, create new identities.

This is going to affect families in a major way. This is going to affect parents in a major way, just like it is going to affect teachers and children.”

Paul Kennedy, Cathedral Grammar school headmaster

Our house is TC3 and everything around this school is red-zoned pretty much, but Banks Ave has been the one and only constant in their lives since the earthquakes.

Children had gone through enough without having their school taken off them“.

Haley Thompson, Parent

We got more than we bargained for today.”

Philip Harding, Paparoa Street School principal

 “Where are the kids supposed to go? Haven’t we been through enough? Half the kids are on medication because of the earthquakes.”

Thea Turner, Parent

No parent is going to enrol their child in an intermediate school that they know is closing so already we’re looking at losing half our pupil population next year alone.

I need to look after my staff, maintain the quality of teaching and keep looking after the children because they’ve been heroes since the quakes . . . everyone has gone through so much and now we have to go through this.”

Geoff Siave, Shirley Intermediate principal

As this blogger pointed out above; National loves choice.

Except when it’s not convenient.

Then it will  act with all the ruthlessness of a mad Arab dictator or  ex-Soviet Asiatic republic that never quite “got democracy“.

National will give us the ‘choice’ of Charter schools, whether we want them or not.

Whilst at the same time it will gut the heart out of Christchurch, inflicting more heartache, stress, misery, and uncertainty on a city that has endured more than the rest of us could possibly imagine.

I leave the reader with this piece, taken from a National Party 2011 policy-document on education,

12. Support Canterbury

Rebuilding Canterbury is a top priority for National. We supported the people of Canterbury in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes and we are committed to getting greater Christchurch back on its feet over the coming months and years.


• Ensured all schools were up and running eight weeks after the February earthquake.
• Double-funded students who moved out of Christchurch for 2011. That is, we funded the Christchurch school they no longer attended and also funded the school outside of Christchurch they did attend.
• Created new exemptions so that Christchurch students would not unfairly miss out on NCEA qualifications.

National will rebuild the Canterbury school network

* Ensure schools make the most of their facilities and resources, and they collaborate rather than compete with each other.
* Ensure there is a range of education provision so parents can continue to have choice about what type of school they send their children to.
Schools in Christchurch will become part of the most advanced schooling network in New Zealand with facilities that support education in the 21st Century.

See: National Party – Education in Schools – Building Better Public Services


We all have it.

Especially on Election Day.

Christchurch schools

Lest We Forget





Scoop.co.nz: Christchurch schools to reopen as charter schools?



= fs =

  1. Murray Olsen
    16 September 2012 at 2:28 am

    I try but fail to see any empathy on Longstone’s face. Didn’t she come over from England after failing there?

    • Clayton N
      16 September 2012 at 8:26 am

      yes murray, thats totally her background, “July – Lesley Longstone appointed as new Secretary of Education. She is described as an “unashamed advocate of the British equivalent of charter schools” in her previous roles in the UK.


      • Ralph
        16 September 2012 at 1:45 pm

        After a highly scientific study conducted recently (by me and based on her profile pic) the award for Most Po Faced and Daft Ideologue goes to….wait for it, the gleanings from Maggie Thatcher’s handbag……Lesley Longstone! Where DO we find these people?

  2. Matt
    16 September 2012 at 8:26 am

    When it comes to National, Brownlee as their minister for Christchurch, and the effects of their policies, they should be measured on the Richter scale. That way it would be easy to compare the damage they do compared to the earthquakes.

    I’m not joking. It is just too profoundly sad.

    With fewer schools and those being on average further away, the kids won’t be walking or on their bikes as much and they’ll be driven to and from school. What’s this going to do to traffic levels and the already bad pollution levels?

    And “dual shifts” mean crazy hours for the kids to go to school. Ridiculous.

    • 16 September 2012 at 10:22 pm

      Agreed, Matt.

      Nothing about National’s crazy plans makes any sense. If this doesn’t result in Brownlee, Wilkinson, Adams, and Wagner losing their electoral seats in 2014 (if not earlier), then sanity has deserted our society.

  3. 16 September 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Kia Ora

    I was told by the New Zealand First spokeswoman for Education, Tracey Martin that she and fellow New Zealand First list M.P. for Port Hills, Denis O’Rourke were hoping to force a snap debate on Thursday in Parliament on the Christchurch schools decision. It didn’t quite happen, but they are sure there will be a debate this week.



    • 16 September 2012 at 10:17 pm

      I hope Tracey “goes hard” on this.

      National’s cost-cutting has become a berserker-style mania for balancing the books at all costs, and devil-take those who are affected.

      One can but hope that the outpouring of rage will make the Nats back off, as they did with their increased classroom sizes proposal.

  4. 17 September 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Kia Ora

    I hope everybody on the opposite side of the House to National gives them a really hard time on this. As I sit at my desk at home in Christchurch typing this and listening to rain on the roof, I can that this must have felt like the arrival of a bad cold front when teachers and principals got the news on Thursday.

  5. VI
    19 January 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Hello Frank,
    Having learned the hard way just how prudish and correctional (malicious/sadistic) certain Christchurch rest home management and staff is toward elderly residents, – specifically my mother-, I was surprised you allowed to appear among these comments the expressive “profanity” “Bugger me! (As in: Bugger me! What if the Big One hit my town? Is this what National has in store for me, my family, and my community?”)
    Aren’t you afraid of offending the delicate sensibilities of the aforementioned viz.: RN’s; GP’S; caregivers et al. And of the possible consequences of so doing?
    Just be careful who handles your carrot juice in future, that it isn’t spiked with Risperidone and numerous other powerful contraindicative drugs. They wont tell you. They wont tell your family how bad things are for you. They’ll put you on a “Behavior Chart.” Designate you NO CPR. And when your head is bashed in they’ll treat you to a cold compress. And they’ll tell your family when they ask about you that you’re doing well. And when your dead they’ll get a pathologist-mate to say it’s natural causes. And when a UK forensic pathologist determines death from blunt force head trauma saying he’s never seen organ morcellation such as in this case; and a UK Coroner brings in the verdict “Death As A Result of Unnatural Causes,” They (NZ authorities) go into denial and refuse to provide records. Despite so called freedom of information act. And King Coroner MacLean the supercilious orchestrator of this surreal fascist composition, anticipative of opposition, cleverly declares himself “Functus Officio” ; but I would spell his official position differently, but still retaining the F. And everyone in New Zealand officialdom happily toes the line ever after. No questions asked or revealed. IPCA; Christchurch police; CDHB; HDC; MOH; Medical Council; Ombudsman et al. Anyway her son is just a trouble maker.
    Remember, she did say: “Bugger-Off.”
    p.s. I thought they’d done away with capital punishment down there?

    Victor Ireland.

  1. 16 September 2012 at 8:26 am
  2. 2 October 2012 at 8:50 am
  3. 3 October 2012 at 3:51 pm
  4. 2 November 2012 at 7:01 pm
  5. 25 February 2013 at 4:41 pm
  6. 23 March 2015 at 7:09 am
  7. 28 March 2015 at 8:02 am
  8. 8 September 2020 at 8:01 am

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