Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Massey High School looks at short sleeves after uniform complaints

The students complained their uniforms were too warm for the stifling weather. Photo / Supplied
The students complained their uniforms were too warm for the stifling weather. Photo / Supplied

Massey High School will look at including shorts and short-sleeved shirts on its uniform list after complaints from students that the required clothing is too hot to wear in summer.

Students at the West Auckland school this week called on management in a petition to design a summer uniform. They felt blazers, trousers and ankle-length skirts were not ideal in hot weather.

Principal Glen Denham said staff were working to come up with a solution.

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"The actual fact is that we'll get some short-sleeved shirts and we'll look at what's practical. We are listening to our kids and I would defend the right of anyone to say their minds and speak up.

"As one of our prefects said: 'Sir, we love the uniform. We think we look great ... but we might want shorts'."

The issue was raised after a senior student started a petition on Change.org. By 7.30 tonight it had 1373 signatures.

Students and parents said they had issues with sweating, headaches and general discomfort having to wear heavy blazers and trousers or long skirts in the heat.

One student told the Herald this week: "I think it's cool, but I think there should be a summer option for us. We can't wear Roman sandals -- we have to wear socks and shoes -- and we have to wear a tie all day. It's pretty hot."

The father of a senior student said he made an effort to pick his son up in the family car when the weather was particularly hot, as he did not want him walking home in the heat.

Other parents and students praised the uniform for boosting their self-confidence because they looked good in it.

Mr Denham said the new uniform, introduced this year, was designed to create a sense of pride and self-worth among students.

"I got this email and this is what it said: 'You're a Westie school. Stop trying to be King's [College] and St Kents. Stay in your lane'.

"We've got beautiful kids here and awesome staff. How dare anybody think that our kids should fulfil a role in society that doesn't include wearing a blazer or a tie. Why not us?

"Someone's made an assumption that we're not good enough." He said he would never accept that because they were from West Auckland, they were not as good as any child in this country.

Students were required to wear blazers at certain times of the day -- as they arrived at the school gates, in between classes and as they left the gates.

They were not required to wear them as they walked to and from school or throughout lunch times.

Mr Denham said they had received about 13 official complaints about the uniform -- a mix of issues with the price and the others about the heat factor.

Overall, however, the feedback had been positive, he said.

"When you've got kids coming to school saying: 'I'm really important. I feel really important'. That's what it's about."

- NZ Herald

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