Watch: 'There are no secrets' – parents and church clash over religious education in schools

Allegations that religious education in public schools is leading to bullying and potential grooming have been slammed by the country's largest provider.

The Churches Education Commission is outraged by claims made by secular education campaigners who've taken their message to the school gate in an effort to have the classes stopped altogether.  

The Secular Education Network is handing out leaflets which claim children are being ostracised or bullied if they opt out of the weekly lessons, and if they attend.

Tanya Jacob of the Secular Education Network said there are "really quite serious concerns, even concerns about potential for grooming, keeping secrets with children that they're not allowed to go home and tell their parents".

Asked is it scaremongering to use the word grooming, she said: "I think it's accurate, whether it's religious grooming or potential for other sorts of grooming." 

The Churches Education Commission teaches in around 600 schools and says its lessons focus on Bible stories and teaching life values.

Abbey Reeve of the commission said Ms Jacob is "really inflaming stuff that parents would be very scared about. But it's not true, there is none of this keeping of secrets, there's none of this hiding stuff". 

Ms Reeve says the focus of the Secular Education Network criticism is around a teaching model that was abandoned in New Zealand eight years ago.

"It is scaremongering. It is not truthful and it is not the correct view of what happens in our lessons in New Zealand."

Handing out the pamphlets isn't just a one-off. The secular education campaigners plan to be outside Christchurch schools two or three days a week to get their message out there.

But with a waiting list of schools wanting religious courses, providers say the protesters are well and truly in the minority.

Allegations that religious education in our public schools is leading to bullying and potential grooming are being slammed. Source: 1 NEWS



Police on the hunt after man seriously hurt in Hamilton shooting

A man has sustained serious injuries after being shot in Hamilton last night

Police responded to Derby Street, Nawton at 10:25pm after receiving reports of a shooting.

An investigation is underway to establish exactly what has occurred and inquiries are being made to find the offenders, who left the scene in a car.

The man is in a stable condition in a high dependency unit at Waikato Hospital.  

A scene examination on Derby Street will continue this morning.

Police car generic.
Police car generic. Source: 1 NEWS

Police are keen to talk to anyone who was in the area last night and may have information of interest to the investigation.

The incident took place in Nawton at 10.25pm yesterday – the offender fled the scene by car. Source: Breakfast

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Record number of happy punters as two win Powerball, 40 win Lotto first division

There were a lot more ecstatic Kiwi punters than usual last night, with two lucky Powerball players winning $2.5 million each and a record 40 players winning Lotto First Division.

Never before in the Lotto's 31-year history have that many winners been announced in a single draw. The 38 first division winners (without Powerball) will take home $25,000 each.

The winning Powerball tickets were sold at a Countdown supermarket in Hastings and at New Brighton Lotto & Discounter in Christchurch.

It follows a winning $7.2 million Powerball draw just a week earlier, sold from a Pak'n Save in Silverdale. As of yet, however, no one has come forward to claim it.

Some winners might be slightly disappointed by their haul from last night’s draw, while two others claimed over $2.5 million. Source: Breakfast

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Strong growth expected in GDP figures to be released this morning

All eyes are on the country's financial performance this morning with economists expecting strong growth.

The latest GDP figures are due for release, with ASB tipping they'll show strong quarterly growth.

Westpac have forecast the annual rate of growth to hold steady at 2.7 percent and both banks are picking a 0.9 per cent rise for the quarter.

Eyes are on the country’s financial performance this morning, with ASB tipping strong quarterly growth. Source: Breakfast


'Angel' takes disabled friend on 'wacky' world adventures and is rewarded with $10,000

A young woman who has taken a teenager with cerebral palsy on adventures around the world, donated a kidney to an old school friend and helped many others has been rewarded with $10,000 for more adventures and to look after herself for a change.

Leah Stewart, who's 23, is the winner of this week's ASB Good as Gold award on TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Donating an organ and helping others were on a bucket list Leah wrote when she was just 16, and she's doing a pretty good job of ticking them off. 

Nineteen-year-old Alicia Kapa - Leah's best friend - and Mum Joanna Kapa have really appreciated Leah's help.

Joanna explained that Alicia wasn't breathing when she was born and has cerebral palsy as a result of that lack of oxygen. 

"She loves adventure and her and her best mate Leah have travelled around the world and done all sports of crazy, crazy things," Joanna said.

These have included a cruise in the Bahamas, adventures in New York and bungy jumping.

Joanna said it means a huge amount to her that Alicia is "getting out and doing stuff that everybody at her age should be able to do, that she's safe, she hasn't got her mother hanging around with her, which is a big thing".

Alicia agreed with that last point.

She's everything that you would think when you think of an angel - Joanna Kapa

Joanna said Leah is "everything that you would think when you think of an angel".

While Alicia declared: "Leah is an amazing friend to me."

Leah and Alicia's adventures have been documented in videos on their own YouTube channel called 'Wheely Wacky Adventures".

Reporter Sam Wallace surprised Leah in suburban Auckland telling her ASB want to give her $5000 for some more Wheely Wacky Adventures, and $5000 "for you to look after yourself because you never do it".

"That sounds amazing," said a stunned Leah as she hugged Alicia in her wheelchair out on the street, surrounded by friends.

Leah admitted she has helped "a few" people and said just over a year ago she donated her left kidney to a friend from high school and "thinks" she saved her life.

The win will help with a trip she and Alicia booked themselves next week because they were missing each other. 

"And the whole thing went on my credit card because I had no money in the bank. And I knew I had some big student loans coming up. I was planning on calling the IRD on Monday and sorting out one of them," Leah said.

This giving friend can relax a little now - until the next wacky adventure.

Leah Stewart wrote her list when she was 16 and she's doing a pretty good job of ticking them off. Source: Seven Sharp


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