And this voter is an­gry too

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

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?

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