National | Ministry of Education

No seat on rural school bus for Northland MP

Winston Peters has been barred from a rural Northland school bus. The Northland MP wanted to board the bus to experience the issues students have been facing with the rural dusty roads.

But as he attempted to follow the Mangakahia students onto their mini school bus, he was shut out.

Peters says, “I'm still waiting for a reason. The fact is they just don't want political sunlight to shine on this problem.”

Peters stopped in at the rural Mangakāhia Area School in Titoki, 20km northwest of Whangarei.

He had hoped to travel with students along dusty roads they deal with and meet whānau who continue to complain about its impact.

But Peters' hopes were dented by the Ministry of Education and he wasn’t granted entry.

Peters says “Worse than they, they think they can get away with it. So if an MP wants to get on a bus and is told in my case no you can’t get on the bus. That's just straight out beauraucratic bullying.”

A concerned family member, Noema Marsh says, “An in-law of mine brings his children from Mangakāhia here. At times, he's nearly driven off the road because of some of the trucks. The dust is thick and terrible all the time.”

Mangakahia Area School Student, Alexus Tohu Alexus Tohu says, Its Very bad, half of us can't breathe properly. It's disgusting actually.”

In a written statement, Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye said:

"The Ministry advised that the request had been received at short notice, and they had safety concerns about extra adults travelling on a full bus. There has clearly been some confusion. I absolutely support Mr Peters' wish to view education services at an appropriate opportunity that ensures the safety of children."

Noema Marsh believes the solution is simple, “I think the roads need to be fixed and tar-sealed.”

According to Peters, although Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti has taken the dusty road issue to the Cabinet of Ministers, he says it seems nothing has changed.