Students drowning in debt rallied together today to protest against drastic budget cuts to the education industry.
At least 200 protesters chanted "we don't like cuts" before marching up Auckland's Queen St to the SkyCity where Prime Minister John Key opened the National Party conference.
The protest labelled 'Show and Tell' began at 1pm with speeches from PPTA and NZEI members as well as students expressing the detrimental impacts of the government's education cuts.
NZEI spokesman Frances Guy said that the changes were "about privatisation, charter schools, league tables and performance pay," and that "every child is entitled to the best teachers.
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Auckland University law student Tessa Baker, 22, said she would be $65,000 in debt after graduating from a five-and-a-half year degree with honours at the end of the year.
"I am only able to study because my parents financially support me but I think education is so important it needs to be available to all, but it just isn't," Baker said.
"The cuts which are happening at the moment are only making it harder to gain an education."
Nurse Nico Woodward, 28, said education was a right, not a privilege, that too many people were missing out on.
He marched in the protest holding a red blanket which symbolised students who were "squarely in the red".
Students peacefully left the protest around 3pm. Many of them will return to the same spot tomorrow morning to support the Auckland Action Against Poverty's "Stop the War on the Poor" event.