The Better Funding Heartland Tour, 2017
The Better Funding Heartland Tour took in regional towns all over New Zealand in one amazing campervan tour. On our trip, we got to hear some amazing stories from families and educators about what they're doing in their communities, as well as seeing the real-world impact of the last few years of funding decisions.
See our tour diaries below.
Early morning saw the team at May Road School before visiting the NZEI offices to meet up with REGAL members involved in their termly workshop. The activism of this group is always assured and they took time out from preparing a submission to the Minister to sign on for #Betterfunding. As luck would have it a group of Principals doing media training were on hand to add their signatures.
At the end of the school day the van was at Owairaka school in Mount Albert. Support Staff Rep Foram Shah was a sight to behold flagging down parents and caregivers from many cultures and motivating them to sign the Support Staff petition. It was great to see so many new immigrant and refugee parents keen to learn about the cause of #Betterfunding.
Before hitting the supercity proper the #Betterfunding van spent a day in the North West rural area on the southern Kaipara and everywhere it was met with support. We’ve said it before: people in the provinces get the need for fair and equitable funding of education. They know that cuts to schooling and pre-school bite particularly hard in smaller communities.
Early in the day Melissa Jackson from Waimauku School joined Tony Dunn and Chris Stuart on the van visiting Waimauku Shool and kindergarten.
It was then on to Helensville Primary and Parakai School where teaching and support staff turned out to show their support. The day ended at Kaipara College, where Teacher Aide Lee Fitzsimmons summarised the thoughts of all when she expressed concerns about the impact of poor funding decisions on vulnerable children.
After the rain in Rodney the Hibiscus Coast welcomed the Heartland Tour with sunshine as the team began early at Stanmore Bay School. Branch stalwart Julie Cooney, worksite rep Fran McFall and Branch President Claire Hunt worked the arriving parent community and by start of school had added 120 new signatures to our Support Staff petition.
Before our next scheduled spot we made a dash to Whangaparoa College to drop off materials at the invitation of Principal James Thomas. We then made a flying visit Fantails ECE before reaching Silverdale Primary in time for morning tea where teachers and support staff posed in front of the #Betterfunding van. They’re committed to taking large postcards out to thei community for signing and looking forward to presenting them to their MP.
Lunchtime saw the #Betterfunding bus in Orewa township where it was joined by support staff and teachers from Orewa North Primary. The conversations with shoppers were invaluable and the signatures flowed.
Our last school visit was to Stella Maris where a group of teachers and support staff engaged with large numbers of parents picking up their children. From there the battle van travelled to an autism workshop where sixty plus committed professionals needed no persuading to give support to the campaign to end the freeze and adequately fund our tamariki.
It bucketed down in Rodney but the Heartland Tour went on. In the carpark at Mangawhai Beach school, field Officer Heather Holmes and Branch President Michelle Dempsey sloshed about while gathering a good number of petition signatures from parents dropping off their children. The usual ‘hug, drop and roll’ was completely disrupted.
Staff turned out for a photo before the #Betterfunding campervan headed off to Kaiwaka Primary for a morning tea catch-up with teachers and support staff. After signing the petition themselves the staff undertook to take a couple of large postcards out into their community that they’ll deliver to their local MPs.
At our next stop the Tomarata school Principal Lynne Duffin and her staff had already covered the office area with #Betterfunding signage and have a plan for building community support.
In the main street of Wellsford wet shoppers joined in the conversation about funding our schools. These communities get the importance of adequate and equitable funding of children’s education. Then it was on to enthusiastic welcomes at Rodney College and Wellsford Primary where even the bin monitors proclaimed the Operations Grant freeze complete rubbish. A great result in trying weather!
Plenty of media coverage of the Better Funding Better Learning campaign in the Far North. The Northern Advocate newspaper here caught up with the van at Hora Hora School in Whangarei where staff and principal are strong advocates on behalf of their pupils.
The Northland tour continues this week through Te Taitokerau, visiting Whangarei schools then Dargaville, Northern Wairoa and Rodney district before arriving in Auckland.
There is a high level of frustration among support staff in Northland – with eight paid union meetings to date telling the same story.
“I believe this is important,” says Leanne Isaac, Pukepoto School support staff member, “because at our school we have lost teacher aides due to not enough hours or days also due to lack of funding. I have also as admin lost a day which is a financial burden so I also have to make ends meet on what I receive or find another job to make up for for the day I have lost.”
There was also a lot of energy at the Northland meetings, lots of postcards to MPs signed and signatures added to the national petition. The issues are not going to go away as support staff committed to getting their local MPs to walk in their shoes for a day and see what the job’s like.
This week the Better Funding Better Learning campaign travels to Kaitaia, Taipa, Kaikohe, Kerikeri and Whangarei and many small communities between. The big colourful camper van stops at schools and community meeting places to meet and talk about why teachers want an end to what is effectively a funding freeze. Some of those visits coincide with paid union meetings for school support staff who are bearing the brunt of school budget deficits as their hours are cut and jobs threatened.
Monday March 20:
12.00 PM Umawera School
01.00 PM Mangamuka School
02.00 PM Mission Place Kindergarten
03.00 PM Mussel Rock Café, Kaitaia
Tuesday March 21:
08.30 AM Kaitaia Intermediate School – principal Sue Arrell
09.30 AM Paid union meeting, Kaitaia Intermediate
10.00 AM Ahipara School
11.00 AM Pukepoto School
12.00 PM Kaitaia main street
01.00 PM Paid union meeting, Kaitaia Intermediate
02.00 PM Doubtless Bay Kindergarten
02.30 PM Taipa Area School
06.00 PM Paid union meeting, Beachcomber Restaurant, 222 Commerce St, Kaitaia
Wednesday March 22:
08.15 AM Kerikeri Primary School
09.30 AM Paid union meeting, Kerikeri Primary
10.00 AM Lindvart Park, Kaikohe – inter-school hockey tournament
01.00 PM Paid union meeting, Kerikeri Primary
05.00 PM Paid union meeting, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe
Thursday March 23:
08.15 AM Opua School
10.00 AM Bay of Islands College
11.00 AM Kawakawa Primary School
12.00 PM Maromaku School
01.00 PM Hukerenui School
Friday March 24:
08:00 AM Kamo Primary School
10.50 AM Whau Valley School
02.30 PM Hora Hora Primary School
Last year, thousands of educators from throughout the primary, early childhood and secondary sectors came together with their communities to win the battle against bulk funding in schools. This year, we’re coming together again to fight to restore funding for early childhood and increase funding for schools, so every young New Zealander has the best start in life.
This is the fifth week of the Heartland campaign which has been touring communities big and small through the South Island and is now covering the North Island. Hundreds of people every day are signing a national petition and hundreds of signed postcards are being sent to local MPs at Parliament from their electorate.
The colourful campervan will have visited almost every corner of the country (click to itinerary) from Bluff to the Far North finishing at Parliament at the end of June.
Teacher aides and other support staff are bearing the brunt of the school funding freeze – and it’s the kids they work with who will miss out. Is that fair?
Support staff are currently attending paid union meetings all over the country, and attracting a lot of attention. The Nelson Mail went along to meet support staff who were supported by their principal Helen Taylor-Young and deputy principal Glenda Rapley at Victory School in Nelson, read here.
The Better Funding Better Learning camper van was there to meet and get signatures for the national petition to end the funding freeze. There was a huge response at Victory School, where parents could really relate to the effect of underfunding on support staff.
The Northern Advocate newspaper in Whangarei reported here that an increase in funding was needed to pay support staff more. Paid union meets roll out across Northland this week during the Northland leg of the national Heartland Better Funding campaign.