25 Jun 2014

Police work with CYF over stabbing

9:39 pm on 25 June 2014

Police are working with Child, Youth and Family as they deal with a child involved in a fight at a south Auckland school which left another critically injured.

An 11-year-old boy who was stabbed at Pacific Christian School in Mangere Bridge on Tuesday morning suffered a head injury and is a critical but stable condition at Starship Hospital.

Police continued the investigation on Wednesday, examining the classroom and working with children who witnessed incident, who they will be interviewing over several days.

A team including police, Child, Youth and Family, and the Ministry of Education are supporting the children and their families.

The first incident happened at Pacific Christian School in Mangere Bridge.

The first incident happened at Pacific Christian School in Mangere Bridge. Photo: RNZ / Nicole Pryor

Inspector Shawn Rutene said police were not yet sure how the fight at Pacific Christian School started, and would not confirm if the boy was stabbed with scissors. "It will be quite a long inquiry, but at this stage there are limited answers."

The Ministry of Education has also sent staff to Southern Cross Campus, in Mangere East, where two teenagers were hospitalised following a fight after school on Tuesday.

The fight between students and young people not from the school broke out just outside of school gates about 3.30pm.

A year 13 student who suffered neck injuries remained in Middlemore Hospital on Wednesday and is expected to be discharged in a couple of days. His younger brother who was also injured had been sent home.

Board of Trustees chair Peter Parussini would not confirm whether a pocket knife was involved, saying the school was not yet sure what weapon was used in the fight.

Southern Cross Campus is encouraging students to go straight home after school and has cancelled all after-school sports for the rest of the week.

Community shocked

Community leaders called for calm and patience in the wake of the incidents. A member of the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board, Nick Bakulich, said the local community was shocked at what had taken place.

Mr Bakulich wants the community to get together and work out what it can do to help ensure the safety of students.

"After these two incidents there would be a move for schools and social services, local government, to get together and start discussing what we need to do immediately ... in supporting the schools and looking at some of these issues."

A 2012 Education Review Office report highlighted safety concerns at Pacific Christian School, including that no staff member held a first aid certificate and that the school did not keep any accident records.

New Zealand Principal's Association president Phillip Harding says the stabbing will throw those concerns into sharp relief, but he did not think the school could have prevented what happened.

"No policy, no procedure, no first aid certificate would've stopped this child being seriously hurt today in what was obviously a spontaneous and terrible assault. So I'm concerned about those issues - others will look into them and determine whether they were causative or whether they were just in the background."

The Ministry of Education said on Wednesday it did not know if anyone with a first aid qualification was on site when the 11-year-old was stabbed. Head of sector support Katrina Casey, said despite that, there has been no indication the school's immediate response to the incident was flawed.

Ms Casey said the ministry's priority is providing support to teachers and students, and once it gets through that phase it will talk to the school about the ERO recommendations. he said the kinds of recommendations made would not have stopped the incident happening.

Two teenagers from Southern Cross Campus were taken to hospital.

Two teenagers from Southern Cross Campus were taken to hospital. Photo: RNZ / Nicole Pryor

MP calls for calm

The MP for Mangere, Labour's Su'a William Sio, said both incidents were disturbing but people should wait for more detail before they started casting blame.

"It's quite easy to lose control of our emotions and ... to make wild speculation. It can easily get out of hand and that's why I'm calling for calm."

Mr William Sio said the first priority was to make sure both schools had the support they need.

Tongan Advisory Council chair Melino Maka told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Wednesday nothing seemed to have been done to fix the issues raised in the Education Review Office report.

Pacific Christian School representatives met with affected parents on Tuesday night and Ministry of Education officials were returning to the school on Wednesday.