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Govt Rural-Wrecking Machine Claims More Victims

January 29, 2004

Govt rural-wrecking machine claims more victims

The Green Party has challenged the Labour government to stop destroying rural communities in New Zealand, following Education Minister Trevor Mallard's decision to close nearly half of all the schools in the South Canterbury region.

Green MP Metiria Turei, the Green Education spokesperson, says the announcement last night to close 15 of the region's 34 schools, including some with rolls over 200, sends a clear message to other rural communities that their days are numbered unless Mr Mallard's agenda is overturned.

"In just one night Mr Mallard has swung a scythe through the South Canterbury region," said Metiria. "The government's rural-wrecking machine must be stopped before it strips the vitality out of provincial New Zealand.

"Rural children are the victims of a massive cost-cutting exercise to fund new schools in Auckland. This is cruel and misguided social engineering.

"By forcing country kids into town schools he's failing to understand the unique education and community spirit that rural schools provide.

"With nine of the 12 rural schools in South Canterbury being absorbed into town schools, with no bus services from closed schools to the remaining rural options, parents would be denied the first preference for their children. It's a Clayton's choice.

"Although Trevor Mallard has so far ignored the wishes of the people of South Canterbury and other provincial areas the fight isn't over yet," said Metiria. "I strongly urge communities not to give up. Fight for your children, fight for your communities and for the future of provincial New Zealand. The Green Party will do everything we can to support you."

In addition to South Canterbury and Upper Hutt (announced Tuesday), Trevor Mallard's axe is hovering over Taihape, Okato (Taranaki), South Egmont, Wairoa, Matakaoa (East Coast), Central Northland, Russell Peninsula, Invercargill and the Grey Valley. Many of these areas are represented by Labour MPs.

Metiria challenged local Labour MPs to stand up and fight for their communities. "That's who they were elected to represent."


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