And this voter is angry too
In the mailbag: ‘‘I never thought I’d feel so disillusioned that I had no interest in voting for the people who run our suburbs and our city but that’s how it feels.
‘‘I’ve just come from an election meeting to hear the candidates and all my reservations have been reinforced.
‘‘Since the city amalgamated, our democratic rights seem to have been ridden rough-shod over. Our rates keep going up and we see fat-cat council employees earning huge salaries, using the money from our rates, while formerly taken for granted services like the mowing of berms have disappeared.
‘‘I can’t think how citizens can be expected to maintain the berms and yet be unable either to garden them or use them for parking. It defies common sense and natural justice.
‘‘If we are so strapped for cash that we can’t afford $3 million a year to mow the grass shouldn’t we be looking hard at the sums of money spent on projects like Trinity Cathedral?
‘‘I would like to see a map of how much rates have been collected from each suburb and then a map for how much money has been spent in each suburb.
‘‘I get the feeling that we would see some huge imbalances in some areas . . . for instance in Manukau, where the mayor hails from.
‘‘At the meeting I attended, a questioner raised the point that the wages bill used to be around $5 million and it is now nearer $71⁄ mil- lion.
‘‘I thought the idea was that amalgamating and thereby losing our voice for the place where we live would be balanced out by the big city being cheaper to run.
‘‘Penny Webster, in answer to this question, likened the amalgamation to Fonterra taking over the country’s milking trade. She claimed that it took years for them to shake down and get the whole thing running properly. The suggestion being that we should all wait for a few years to see the city working efficiently.
‘‘But unlike the farmers, we ratepayers had no say in the matter. We were steamrollered into accepting the soulless mega-polis with a softener that it would be cheaper than keeping our local boundaries. ‘‘It obviously isn’t. ‘‘And we have to watch career local body people with no commitment or loyalty to the places they are voted into, with not much experience outside sitting on a council, but deeply committed to their large salaries, making decisions with our money that impact on our lives.
‘‘I have never forgotten Penny Hulse’s successful campaign for bigger salaries as soon as she and her fellow councillors were elected.
‘‘If this is democracy, then it’s a
– Name provided
So Hekia Parata has invited education bigwigs led by Secretary for Education Peter Hughes and including top people from the PPTA, NZEI and unionists to Hong Kong and Singapore to see how schools there get such good results.
They should all get round-theworld tickets and fly on to Britain to see how the new breed of school – like John Banks has had the Government agree to – don’t work.
Spend a day or so at the AlMadinah school in Derby, a free school established last year to cater mainly for Muslim pupils.
The hardliners appear to have taken over its management and are running it their way.
The 200 girls and boys are segregated at the school. Even nonMuslim women staff must wear the hijab, the Muslim headscarf.
Stringed instruments, singing, and the telling of fairy tales are all banned as ‘‘non-Islamic’’.
Andrew Cutts-McKay resigned as head in August, two months after deputy Suzanne Southerland stepped down from her post. Both said they were ‘‘bullied and sidelined’’ by members of the school’s trust which is predominantly Muslim.
The school strongly denies the pair’s claims.
A staff member told the British Sunday Times: ‘‘When teaching children the alphabet, you could not associate the letter ‘p’ with pig.’’
Jewellery is also banned on the school premises.
Other staff have highlighted ‘‘concerns’’ over the school’s practices, which include banning non-halal food and forcing female pupils as young as 4 to sit at the back of the class away from boys – and furthest from the blackboard!
At lunchtime, the boys eat first and the girls go when they have finished. Around half a dozen teachers at the free school, who could face losing their jobs if they refuse to comply with the rules, are now seeking legal advice from the National Union of Teachers.
The Sunday Times said its sources had revealed that the school had become extremely religious.
Some teachers claim that during Ramadan lessons were sacrificed to prayer sessions.
One anonymous staff member told the paper: ‘‘They have three prayers every day, an hour of Koranic studies and an hour of Islamic studies as well as Arabic. They are not following the national curriculum, there isn’t enough time.
‘‘Everything that teachers want to teach children has to be approved by Islamic scholars on site.’’
The source also revealed that girls always had to give way to the boys.
‘‘On a school trip to Drayton Manor Park zoo girls queued up for all the rides, only to have to cede their places to boys and male teachers when they got to the front of the queue.’’
Another staff member said lunch and break times had been extended to give more time for prayer.
The school issued a statement rejecting the claims.
‘‘Al-Madinah is a pioneering school, the first of its type in the whole country and not everyone wants it to succeed. Unfortunately politics have been allowed to interfere with education.’’
The revelations come as a departmental investigation into the school’s financial management was expected to report in September. The department now says the report would be ‘‘issued in due course’’.
The school trust has refused to comment but Stuart Wilson, the interim head teacher at AlMadinah, defended the school against charges of bullying. He said there was nothing in staff contracts requiring women to wear the hijab or a headscarf.
However, he added: ‘‘The expectation for female staff, raised in adverts and interviews is that the head is covered while on site. To date, no complaint has been raised with the governing body relating to female staff wearing the hijab or headscarf.’’
The crisis at the flagship free school emerged as three more Muslim free schools opened, in Blackburn, Bolton and east London, bringing the total number of Muslim free schools now open to five.
Memo Hekia: What will you do to guarantee that the Banks Charter Schools will not go down a bigot’s path like Derby’s Al-Madinah?