False or incorrect allegations of racism, bullying and elitism at John Paul College

John Paul College

An independent review says allegations of racism, bullying and elitism at Rotorua’s John Paul College are “false or incorrect”.

Earlier this year the college’s board of trustees ordered an independent investigation “by its own choice”.

The Bishop of Hamilton, Stephen Lowe, told the board he had received a complaint via email regarding alleged “systemic racism” at the school. The complainant said the racism was causing Māori whānau to either withdraw or choose not to enrol at the college.

This week, the college confirmed the review was completed and had been released to the board, staff and the college Whānau Support Group.

The report says the evidence the independent review gathered does not support the allegations.

It says: “The notion of ‘systemic racism’ arises from a response to an email sent by a current board member who cited the unavailability of the whare to students at interval and lunchtimes while the International Room was.

“While this is not a case of ‘systemic racism’ further support needs to be created if the needs of whānau are to be met and heard.”

The report notes there have been small fluctuations in the distribution of Māori students across year levels. This year it reached its highest total of 228.

The reviewers also found, however, a “slight drop” in the number of Pacific students at the college since 2017.

“The school’s Pacific Island co-ordinator suggests that this reflects the increased number of Pacific families moving out of Rotorua,” the report says.

Going forward, the reviewers have made recommendations to the college.

These include appointing a senior leadership team member responsible for Māori achievement, developing relationships with iwi and regularly updating the board of trustees on student retention and reasons for leaving.

Working school work with current school kaumatua to develop tikanga protocols associated with the Whare Tāpere is offered as a suggestion to the school’s leadership.

Gaston says any member of the school community was given the opportunity to be interviewed or to make a submission on the report.

As a result of this, the reviewer spent an additional two days meeting “interested parties”.

“It is heartening that the review has definitively shown the allegations made in the complaint to be false or incorrect,” Gaston says.

Right now, Gaston says school staff are working to create an action plan around the report’s recommendations.

“John Paul College is a high performing school and continues to look to be more bicultural and Te Tiriti (Treaty) led.”

“As a school, we will also continue to seek opportunities to support our Māori and Pacifika students to achieve as Māori and Pacifika people.”

Independent reviewers Violet Pelham and Aramoana Mohi-Maxwell confirmed: “the evidence gathered does not support the allegations made.”

Their recommendations “should assist and accelerate the school in its bicultural journey to becoming a Te Tiriti o Waitangi led school,” Pelham and Mohi-Maxwell say.



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News category: New Zealand.

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