Opposition MPs have berated the government over its plan to close schools and merge others in Christchurch.
During a snap debate in parliament on Tuesday they said the city's education recovery plan had been badly handled with insufficient public consultation.
The government proposes closing 13 schools and 18 others will be involved in mergers.
MPs said they had been flooded with emails from parents opposed to school closures and accused the government of not listening to communities.
Education Minister Hekia Parata said there had been extensive consultation.
"We can't put back what was there before," she said.
"Of the schools most affected, two have sought voluntary closure, five have rolls of less than 50 and others have been damaged."