Christchurch residents rally against school plan
More than 1000 people, including children, have gathered at Hagley Park today for a protest rally against Canterbury's school shake-up.
Many of the protesters holding placards and signs arrived at the rally already chanting. Some were chanting "save our schools" and "nothing about us without us". The crowd cheered as the names of the 57 affected schools were announced in the welcome speech.
Julia Rose, whose grandson is at Chisnallwood Intermediate said she was furious about the school merging.
Branston Intermediate principal Jennifer O'Leary said: "We are not going to close. We are going to fight.
"We are not going to put up with [National's] manipulation for their own ideology."
Manning Intermediate teachers have brought their school flags.
The crowd cheered throughout organiser Wayne Hawker's speech.
Pupils from Greenpark School gave emotional speeches about how much they like their school and want to stay there.
The crowd grew solemn as they started sobbing during their speeches.
Three pupils from Yaldhurst Primary have been signing all the speeches because their classmate is deaf.
Bridget Raymond of the PPTA said she wants Education Minister Hekia Parata to make a categorical statement there would not be a charter school in Christchurch.
The Canterbury Kids Vote petition, started on Wednesday, was also being signed.
National MPs Hekia Parata, Gerry Brownlee, Nicky Wagner were invited to speak but declined.