19 Nov 2011

Maori Party says candidate feared for safety at meeting

7:38 pm on 19 November 2011

The chair of the East Coast candidates' meeting in Whakatane says he can't understand why the Maori Party withdrew its candidate, alleging a threat to her safety.

The Maori Party says Tina Porou felt that a crowd protesting outside Friday's meeting against the Government's decision to close Kawerau Intermediate was so angry something might happen during the meeting.

But the chair of the meeting, Whakatane Beacon editor Mark Longley, says there was no trouble.

"There was some protesting beforehand, but we knew that was going to happen. Then the protesters came inside and they behaved impeccably throughout the whole two hours, including the kids who were really good."

Mr Longley says near the end of the meeting, there was some more protesting.

Labour Party candidate Moana Mackey says the meeting got heated for a while, but was far less rowdy than others she has been to.

National's education spokesperson Anne Tolley described the meeting as robust.