Kindergarten kids highjack Heartland campaign

Local kindergarten kids staged a takeover of the Better Funding Heartland camper van when it visited Karoro Kidsfirst in Greymouth on Wednesday February 15.

“I looked in the bus and it was full of kids, they’d even done up their seat belts,” says local activist and retired primary principal Murray MacGibbon.

“It was a wonderful day with Te Whaea Ireland and a great group of activists. For me the highlight was going to the kindergarten, it was a lot of fun. We opened the door and they all piled in.”

He says Te Whaea, a teacher from Karoro School, knew people everywhere and sailed into shops and businesses where she knew parents.  “It was very easy to get signatures, no one minds being shoulder-tapped.”

Murray MacGibbon and Te Whaea Ireland outside West-Coast Tasman Labour MP Damien O'Connor's office in Greymouth

Murray MacGibbon and Te Whaea Ireland outside West-Coast Tasman Labour MP Damien O’Connor’s office in Greymouth

In Greymouth the day started with a phone call to local MP Damien O’Connor, who asked for petitions and postcards to be left at his office.   The distinctive blue and yellow camper van called on three primary schools, two kindergartens and spent time downtown, again collecting over 200 signatures on the day and getting postcards signed. “We covered as much ground as possible,” says van driver Murray Smeaton .

He says community response has been 100% positive, and the campaign is getting a lot of great coverage. Schools are really supporting the tour, local media are very present and the van and activists are high visibility.

One Karoro kindergarten parent took away six petition forms and 50 postcards to get signed. Especially passionate are parents who have special needs children with teacher aids, or who were trying to get specific help.  One parent who had made three attempts for ORS (Ongoing Resourcing Scheme) funding for their child, rounded up a lot of other parents to sign.

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