All's fair as fight for school becomes fun

00:00, Dec 03 2012
Salisbury School
FAIR DEAL: Principal Brenda Ellis, lawyer Mai Chen and Helen McDonnell of the board of trustees during Sunday's Salisbury School fundraising fair.

Richmond's Salisbury School has received strong community backing at its fundraising fair, with the school's high-profile lawyer among those showing their support.

The fair yesterday afternoon was organised to raise funds for Salisbury's legal fight against Education Minister Hekia Parata's decision to close the 98-year-old school.

It included live music, a bouncy castle, pony rides, baking sales, second-hand stalls, boutique cafe and a world-record attempt.

The school is waiting for the outcome of a judicial review of the decision to close it at the end of the year.

The case was heard in the High Court at Wellington last week, and a decision is expected by Justice Robert Dobson before Christmas.

Deputy principal Stephen Evans said the fair was a great day, with plenty of people coming out to show their support.


Lawyer Mai Chen, who represented the school at the hearing last week, made a surprise visit to show her support.

She gave an emotional speech, speaking about her journey with the case, and how firmly she believed in the school's cause.

Mr Evans said it was great to see that the school's fight was something she really believed in.

The level of support was incredible, he said.

Many people would offer $10 when paying for items worth 50c, and some stallholders donated all their proceeds.

"People were just so, so generous," he said.

The school had not had a chance to count the takings from the fair, but he was hopeful of a strong result, he said.

There was still so much donated second-hand gear left over that the school was thinking of having another garage sale at the weekend, he said.

The fair was also an opportunity for one Salisbury student, Billie Wells, 16, to break a world record for the longest paper chain made by an individual.

Stretched around the school's netball courts, the 380-metre chain had messages of support written by people in the community.

The attempt was a way for Billie to know she was helping the school.

"It takes perserverance to do it," Mr Evans said.

Overall, the girls had handled news of the possible closure well, but there were some who were a little upset, he said.

"There's a few that are quite rattled and are quite worried about going home. They are quite concerned - their time wasn't supposed to come yet."

The Nelson Mail