Unsung Heroes of Christchurchkicked in the Guts
In the first weeks after the February earthquake I had the privilege of working alongside teachers in the Eastern
suburbs. Christchurch schools were the glue that held those communities together. And they still do. Teachers dealing
with their own tragedies unselfishly day after day cared and helped other people’s children. This government has never
acknowledged the contribution Christchurch teachers have made to the spiritual rebuild of their city.
The dismantling of public education in Christchurch announced yesterday demonstrates the limited vision by a government
that only measures things in business terms.
It would be the gravest insult if this reshaping of education in the city was the prelude to the introduction of charter
schools. The events of the past eighteen months have shown that Christchurch needs schools deeply committed to its
communities, embedded and serving the needs of parents and children, not the financial motivations or otherwise of
The disaster of Hurricane Katrina was only compounded by the introduction of charter schools across the city which has
destroyed public education in that city. Parents in Christchurch need to be reassured that community based schools will
still serve the needs of their children.
Associate Professor Peter O’Connor was named a New Zealander of the Year By North and South Magazine for his UNESCO
sponsored work in Christchurch schools following the February 2011 earthquake. He is an Associate Professor in the
Faculty of Education, The University of Auckland.