School facing closure banned from Parliament lunch
The Speaker of the House has banned a group of school students and supporters from attending a luncheon at Parliament.
Turakina Maori Girls' College was invited to dine with Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox on Thursday, but Speaker David Carter feared there were political motives behind it, as the school faces closure next year if it can't increase its roll.
Group spokeswoman Hemaima Eichsteadt says they don't want their pupils to miss seeing how Parliament works.
"He may not allow us in there for lunch, but the debating chamber – which was part of our agenda – we were going to send our current students into the debating chamber to watch the MPs at work, [and it's] still open to the public."
Ms Eichsteadt says a planned haka outside Parliament was not going to be a "protest", but an expression of their "identity as Maori women".
"I am shocked that the haka is being dubbed as a protest and disappointed Minister [of Education Hekia] Parata has decided not to accept our invite to receive our delegation," she told Maori TV.
The Ministry of Education plans to close the school in January.