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'Anybody got fights?': Bullies film violent attack on junior student at Hamilton school

Publish Date
Sun, 9 Jun 2024, 4:13pm
A junior high school student's head was stomped on by two senior students at Mangakōtukutuku College in Hamilton.
A junior high school student's head was stomped on by two senior students at Mangakōtukutuku College in Hamilton.

'Anybody got fights?': Bullies film violent attack on junior student at Hamilton school

Publish Date
Sun, 9 Jun 2024, 4:13pm


A junior high school student’s head was stomped on by two senior students as she tried to run away and protect herself, a video uploaded to Instagram shows.

The assault is the latest in a series of attacks among students at Mangakōtukutuku College in Hamilton, which opened in February.

That month a 13-year-old boy was knocked unconscious with one punch by a senior student during a brawl and the school was put into a lockdown.

In April, a Limited Statutory Manager (LSM) was appointed and principal Dr Thilo Govender no longer appears to be at the embattled Waikato school.

The attacks appear to be incited by an Instagram page which bears the school crest.

One post read: “Anybody got fights goin on tm? when & where chat [sic]”.

The Instagram page which appears to have incited the attack.
The Instagram page which appears to have incited the attack.

Parents told RNZ that bullies were picking fights, referred to by students as “hokas”, during lunch time and filming the brawls to post on social media.

In two reels posted to the page on Wednesday, a girl can be seen trying to escape her attackers after being kicked in the face.

But two teenagers catch up with her and drag her to the ground screaming.

They then kick and stomp on the younger girl’s head and face three times as she lies on the ground trying to protect herself.

The student puts her head in her hand as her attackers walk away.

Peter, who did not want his surname used in case his child is targeted, said he was considering pulling the 14-year-old out and home-schooling them.

He described the attack on the girl as tragic.

“For God’s sake, that’s not what should be happening at our kids’ schools. I understand there are fights at school. I understand that there are those conflicts going on, but it’s getting to the point where the kids just don’t care.”

Parents were growing frustrated but the college was the only secondary school they were zoned for, he said.

In order to leave, families would have to move to another school zone or pay tens of thousands in private school fees.

Mum Karen Glass said she kept her three children home from school on Friday out of concern for their safety, because she did not receive an email from the school explaining what had happened.

Mangakōtukutuku College. Photo / Libby Kirkby-McLeod, RNZ
Mangakōtukutuku College. Photo / Libby Kirkby-McLeod, RNZ

“And so then, I don’t have sufficient confidence to send my kids in to an environment that I’m not entirely certain is safe.”

Security guards were posted at school during term one after the schoolwide lockdown, but her children told her they were no longer there, she said.

Glass said if that was the case, she believed they needed to be reinstated.

“My primary concern is that you’re actually going to see a situation where a child’s severely injured, or it may be a teacher intervening.

“And that’s actually not the catalyst we want to change the situation. We want to sort it out now so we can keep children safe.”

13-year-old knocked unconscious and leg broken

Another parent, who did not want to be named, said her young nephew was seriously injured at the school on the day of the lockdown when an older boy knocked him unconscious.

She said the 13-year-old also suffered a broken leg and missed all of term one as a result of his injuries, but was still being bullied by his tormentors who wanted to continue fighting.

“He is generally struggling. He’s looking over his shoulder every five minutes.

“Boys these days, should be able to go down and shoot some hoops. He can’t. He can’t go to the shop by himself. He can’t even walk to a bus stop by himself.

“He says he’s not scared, but he doesn’t know who’s out there.”

RNZ has seen numerous Instagram posts goading the boy into fighting, prompting his mother to restrict and supervise his access to social media.

The aunt said one of the worst bullies represented the school in rugby and was supposed to be stood down until June 10, but was at school on Wednesday.

It meant the boy’s mother had to collect the youngster and take him home at 11am, only days after he had finally returned to school following his recovery.

She said the senior student who knocked out her nephew made a heartfelt apology during a restorative meeting last term and the whānau accepted it as genuine.

The aunt said if they pressed on with police action against the boy, it would have “wrecked his life” and since then he had not caused any trouble for her nephew.

She wanted to see action taken against the bullies and said there were many students at the school who wanted an education and had goals in life but were now afraid of going to school.

School working with police to investigate incident

A police spokesperson said community officers were visible at the college this week in response to an incident during school hours.

The Year 7 to 13 college opened at the beginning of the year and is an amalgamation of the former Melville secondary and intermediate schools.

The principal, Dr Thilo Govender, appeared to no longer be at the school and the Ministry of Education referred questions to Limited Statutory Manager Dr Shane Edwards.

“Staff acted quickly to diffuse the situation and police were in support. The school has information regarding the event and is working with police to investigate and address the matter.”

He said the school, which the Education Review Office showed as having a roll of 852, remained committed to ensuring a focus on learning and addressing any matters which might disturb that.

Neither he nor the ministry responded to questions about security guards, where the principal was, whether she was on full pay, and whether she would be returning to the job.

They also did not respond to questions about whether the Instagram page could be shut down and if the school was enforcing the government’s mobile phone ban in schools.


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