Education Minister Hekia Parata is not surprised by a mass protest in Christchurch over school closures, but she says there's no need for communities to panic, as consultation is continuing.
Hundreds of Cantabrians turned out on Wednesday night to protest a lack of public input into the decision to close, merge or relocate a number of Christchurch schools.
The government last week announced a proposal to close 13 schools, and 18 others will be merged, as part of a $1 billion rebuild and realignment of education in the city.
A further 173 are being repaired, and some schools, including Shirley Boys' High, have been given several options, which depend on geotechnical reports of their land.
About 500 people gathered at the Bridge of Remembrance in central Christchurch on Wednesday evening protesting against a lack of democracy in their city's decision-making.
Ms Parata told Radio New Zealand she was not surprised communities were upset.
However, she said it appears the protesters were rallying against "an accumulation of issues" in the city.
The government had based its proposals on a number of factors resulting from the earthquakes, including what shape the building stock was in and whether it met earthquake standards, current school populations and roll projections, and how new technology and "clustering" could best be used.
Clustering would see groups of schools work together, "both to share best practice, but also to share facilities and expertise", Ms Parata said.
The decisions were not final and parents and teachers would still have a chance to have a say, she said.
Secondary principals emerged appeased after meeting with Ministry of Education officials on Wednesday night, with Christchurch Boys' High School principal Trevor McIntyre telling The Press they received much-needed information that they hadn't been given last week.
Shirley Boys' High principal John Laurenson said he now had "very few concerns" about the proposals after officials signalled more consultation.Primary and intermediate schools will meet with ministry officials on Thursday night.
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