Crowds turn up for schools rally
The rally for protesters against Government proposals to close and merge some schools in Christchurch, held in Hagley Park South, Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday 22 September, 2012.

More than a thousand people have turned out for a lunchtime rally protesting against a shake-up of Christchurch schools.

The crowd of around 1500 people, including many children and teachers, waved placards in calm sunny weather at the Hagley netball courts.

Some of the signs said "Save our schools", along with "Democracy hard won, defend it" and "What the Hekia are you getting at", in reference to Education Minister Hekia Parata.

The government last week announced a proposal to close 13 schools and merge 18 others as part of a $1 billion rebuild and realignment of education in the earthquake-damaged 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.

One of the speakers at the rally, Manning Intermediate principal Richard Chambers, told the crowd "the way things have been proposed to us make having discussions extremely difficult".

"Change will happen but let us be part of it. The changes proposed could be a blight on Christchurch for generations."

The rally follows a similar protest on Wednesday night, when around 500 people gathered at the Bridge of Remembrance protesting against a lack of democracy in their city's decision-making.

The Hagley Park protest was organised by former Phillipstown School board of trustees member Wayne Hawker.

Phillipstown has been mooted to merge with Woolston School on an unknown site.

"If people think that this will be the end of it, then think again," he said last week.

NZ Newswire

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