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Maori Party co-leader asks for anti-bullying programme at Hutt Valley High

Statement from the Maori Party
Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has acknowledged the Hutt Valley High School Board of Trustees for their statement accepting that the school had failed to meet expectations for the victims and families involved in the series of serious assaults that occurred at the school in 2007.

“I welcome the admission that the boys and the families were let down by the school; that bullying in any form is unacceptable, and that the board and management have apologised unreservedly for their poor handling of the violence that took place in the school environment”.

David McGee’s report of the bullying that took place makes for disturbing reading” said Mrs Turia. “No one expects an institution of learning to be characterized as having a “systemic problem of violence” placing the safety of students and teachers at risk”

“The issues around safety identified by a group of Maori students; and in interviews with junior students reflect a culture of indifference operated at that time. Maori students reported “scraps every day – nothing done” and the junior students also reported “some teachers don’t want to hear” about bullying”.

“It is particularly concerning to note that the school was not alone in its knowledge of the ‘systemic under punishment of violent incidents’ with the Ministry of Education and the Education Review office also being aware prior to the Ombudman’s Office becoming involved. All of us can learn from the mismanagement of the serious assaults and the various offences that took place at Hutt Valley High. It is distressing to read in the Ombudsman’s report, “the situation at Hutt Valley School demonstrates that the lack of appropriate sanctions can contribute to and risk normalization of a culture of violence”.

“I would hope that this school, in particular, will take up the opportunity not only to immediately implement an effective anti-bullying programme, but to also be more proactive, in considering this an excellent opportunity to operate a virtues or value-based philosophy in the whole school environment”.

Authorised by Tariana Turia, Parliament Buildings, Wellington