Educators among supporters of Vape-Free Kids Rally

Hawkes Bay educators were among the crowd of 100-strong last weekend in Hastings rallying for stricter regulation of vapes.

Educators were among the supporters in the crowd last Saturday in Hawkes Bay at a rally against vaping. 

Rally organiser Sukdeep Singh said their goal was to “show national political leaders that we are not going to sit by quietly while these stores keep feeding the growing youth vaping crisis. 

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“This issue is affecting our kids’ wellbeing, their studies, their families and their futures.”  

Tim Van Zyl, principal of Napier Intermediate School, said that he was among the crowd “because of the impact vaping is having in schools. 

Tim Van Zyl speaking at the rally on Saturday. Photo by Edward Roberts, supplied by Vape-Free Kids NZ

“A lot of our kids are addicted to nicotine, vaping. And these are eleven or twelve-year-old kids, intermediate age children constantly trying to sneak out of class. If something stops them from being able to vape then they become agitated and that’s a barrier for learning.”  

Speaking at the event, Van Zyl said that at his school, vapes had become a commodity and were being bartered and traded between children.

“It’s damaging our children’s ability to learn.” 

Van Zyl was among other speakers like Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall, the opposition spokesperson for Health, Deputy Mayor of Napier Annette Brosnan and Hastings Councillor Wendy Schollum. Other supporters included community groups such as the Asthma Foundation New Zealand and the Cancer Society.  

At the event, Joel Wilton, Principal of Havelock North High School called on our legislators to do “what they’ve done before” and change “legislation, cost, marketing and availability” of vaping, as they’d done to cigarettes decades prior. 

Hastings Youth Councilors Milly Petrie from Karamu high school and Chris Proctor from Lindisfarne College. Photo by Edward Roberts, supplied by Vape-Free Kids NZ.

Around 100 people were in attendance at the rally. Van Zyl called the event “really successful,” though he expressed disappointment that the current Health Minister Casey Costello did not engage with the rally. 

In the future, Van Zyl said he would like to see vapes made into a prescription medicine. He said that although young people were no longer smoking, they were turning to a “more available and attractive” substitute.  

In an interview with RNZ, co-founder of Vape-Free Kids NZ Marnie Wilton said that the group was disappointed about the recent repeal of Smokefree legislation. The group said their protest was about having a “nicotine-free” generation, and they’d like to see the government enforce stronger regulations on the tobacco industry.  


Naomii Seah

Naomii Seah is a writer and journalist from Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. She enjoys crochet, painting, and a coffee or two at the beach. Her work can be found at The Spinoff, The Pantograph Punch, Stuff, and of course, School News NZ.
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