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School says ban on tree climbing to protect principal from jail time

A Wairarapa primary school has temporarily banned climbing trees until it gets clarification on the new health and safety laws.

One of the trees Greytown School stopped kids from climbing. Source: 1 NEWS

Greytown Primary School principal Kevin Mackay says the wording of the new workplace guidelines is ambiguous so the school is erring on the side of caution.

"The change in legislation, as we understand it, is bringing in the one word ‘reasonable’," he said.  

"Currently there is no definition of what is 'reasonable', because what is reasonable to us at the school and parents is debateable."

Greytown primary School students break for lunch Source: 1 NEWS

The school's board chairman, Alistair Plimmer, says the board put the temporary ban in place to protect Mr Mackay from the possibility of jail time or hefty fines, if the new legislation is breached. 

Mr Plimmer is quick to point out the school wants to reinstate climbing as soon as possible.

"This school believes in climbing trees. We believe in providing challenges for kids because they learn from challenge and risk," he said..

"But we also have to protect our principal at our school, and obviously our kids."

The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Michael Woodhouse, says some schools are overacting about the changes to health and safety rules and most have nothing to fear.