The Speaker of the House is refusing to allow a delegation of 150 supporters of Turakina Māori Girls College to attend a parliamentary lunch hosted by Māori Party MP, Marama Fox.
The luncheon event aimed to showcase the schools’ successes over its 110 year history and featured a cultural performance by current students.
Despite repeated attempts to challenge the speaker’s decision, the Turakina delegation of current and former students, staff and Presbyterian Church members have been told their trip to Parliament is “too political.”
We haven’t even been able to secure seating in the Speaker’s Gallery of the debating chamber so that our current students can watch question time,” says organiser Mrs Eichstaedt.
The former old girl and president of Ngā Wāhine Tawhito o Turakina Ngā Hara described the speaker’s actions as both “embarrassing and ill-informed”.
“The purpose of our visit is to promote and showcase our school, while providing current students with an opportunity to meet Members of Parliament and enjoy the debates.”
The Turakina delegation had originally expected to perform a “flash haka” outside Parliament as part of a social media campaign to promote the school.
Mrs Eichsteadt says that the flash haka is not a protest but an important expression of, “our identity as Māori women”.
I am shocked that the haka is being dubbed as a protest and disappointed Minister Parata has decided not to accept our invite to receive our delegation” she adds.
The Turakina visit to Parliament follows the Ministry of Education’s announcement that the boarding school could be closed by January next year.
In a private meeting held last week with its governance entities, Minister Parata gave an ultimatum to the school that it has until Labour Weekend to pick its roll up for 2016 year.
“It is an unfair and unrealistic demand. Māori boarding schools on the whole have not fared well over the past 15 years or so,” says Mrs Eichsteadt”.
“As each Māori boarding school shuts its gates for the final time, it sends a shockwave amongst Māori communities. Māori will not want to see this happen. We need creative thinking to prevent any closure of Turakina Māori Girls College”.
The Turakina delegation will arrive to Parliament at 12pm this Thursday, September 10th.
Kia kaha wahine toa!!