Freyberg High School’s David Seymour haka: Thousands sign letter supporting students

The principal of Freyberg High School says no students have been stood down or suspended following a controversial haka in which a politician was spat at.

Graeme Williams had previously said some students at the Palmerston North high school would go through a disciplinary process after performing a haka at ACT Party leader David Seymour on Thursday.

It comes after an open letter of solidarity with the students was signed by thousands of people across the country.

Students performed ‘Ka Mate’ whilst the associate education minister was leaving the school to show they strongly disagree with ACT’s policies towards Te Tiriti o Waitangi. A video shared online showed that at the conclusion of the haka, a student holding a tino rangatiratanga flag approached Seymour and spat at the ground by his feet.

The letter praised the students for showing leadership and honouring tikanga by standing with every hungry child and worried Māori parent in the country.

“Your stand has come with a price, and we also want to say: that price is unjust. It is colonial, it is biased, and it is designed to keep you down.”

More than 7000 people have signed the live document, including psychiatrist Hinemoa Elder and singer Ria Hall.

Wellington Regional Councillor Thomas Nash said lawyers got in touch with him to say they were keen to provide support to the students pro bono if needed.

On Tuesday night, Williams said in a letter to parents, students had the school’s “unequivocal support” to “legitimately protest and have their voices heard”.

“What we have found is that there was a need to respond to some of the behaviour after the protest.

We have taken a careful and considered approach working closely with Haimona Maruera (Ngāti Ruanui Tumu Whakaae), Jocelyn Mikaere (Deputy Secretary for Education), our local [Ministry of Education] offices, the [board of trustees], our Māori department and the relevant students.

“As a result of this collaboration and support, we are now working through a process of using last Thursday’s events as a learning experience for us all. We have utilised the restorative processes within our school’s framework, which is a central part of who we are as a school. No students have been stood down nor suspended as a result of the protest.

“We are looking after the wellbeing of all our students and our showing manaakitanga to those particularly [affected].”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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