On NZEI’s side on this one

The HoS reports:

Teachers at a state school have called in the union to protest about being asked to lead pupils in daily karakia.

The NZEI union has been asked to address concerns held by some staff at Auckland’s Kelston Intermediate School over reciting a Maori prayer before lessons start each day.

The school recites a karakia at the start of its weekly assembly and in classrooms before lessons begin.

Staff deliver the prayer, which asks for the day to be blessed, help with work and to have a good week.

An NZEI spokeswoman confirmed the union was intervening at the school.

“NZEI is helping facilitate further discussion at the school on the issue and the school is welcoming of this.” Kelston Intermediate principal Phil Gordon said he had no idea some staff were unhappy with karakia in the classroom until contacted by the union representative.

A Ministry of official said state primary schools were required to be secular – but this didn’t preclude teaching about religion.

There is a difference between teaching about religion, and compulsory prayer sessions led by a teacher.

NZEI is right to intervene and stand up for the rights of their members not to have to partake in a religious ceremony.

Gordon said he reassured the union representative the karakia was a cultural component of school life and an expression of beliefs that reflected the Kelston community.

“I guess what they might have been inquiring about is the presence of karakia, etc, within school so we talked about what we’re doing is not a religious thing but a cultural thing.”

It is both religious and cultural. They can do cultural stuff that is not religious, but prayers by their nature are religious.

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