John Paul College principal disciplines student fighters


Rotorua’s John Paul College principal says the school is taking action after a video emerged of a fight between some of his students.

The fighters included both girls and boys.

Principal Patrick Walsh says John Paul College takes fighting seriously and is now in the process of disciplining the students involved.

“The students have been identified, we’ve notified the parents and we’re working through a disciplinary process with them.”

“The college has a dedicated and very responsive pastoral team who are managing the incident well,” he says.

“These are isolated incidents but happen in every school from time to time.”

However, a parent from the school says in her view Walsh’s response is insufficient to prevent the “horrific bullying and fighting” she believes occurs daily on school grounds.

She says she only learned about the fights last week after another parent shared a video of the boys fighting in the toilet.

She doesn’t think the John Paul College principal is going far enough in his disciplinary actions.

“I mean, other schools are expelling kids…

“If there’s no consequence, then how are [the attackers] going to learn that it’s not ok?”

Walsh disagrees.

“There are consequences, some are at the extreme end in terms of stand-downs and suspensions. We do treat the matter very seriously – we take a disciplinary approach to it but also there’s a therapeutic and educative approach as well”, he told the NZ Herald.

“We need to advise students why fighting is not a good idea and that they need to use other means to resolve conflicts.”

Walsh said the conflicts usually began on social media.

“They generally have their genesis in inappropriate comments made on social media by students, which is a matter schools up and down the country grapple with.

“There were no serious injuries and I think it’s boys getting a bit testosterone-inflamed over things. Social media has its benefits but it obviously has its downsides as well. People will say things on social media that in the cold light of day they regret saying.”

He said he was pleased with how quickly other students reported the fights to school staff.

On Tuesday, CathNews reported an independent review said 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”.


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