24 Mar 2011

Teacher found guilty of pulling students' ears

4:18 pm on 24 March 2011

A jury has found a teacher at a Maori immersion school in Hastings guilty of pulling the ears of his young students.

Wi Derek Huata, 53, faced 10 charges in the Napier District Court of assaulting children under the age of 14, and two of assault using a weapon at the kura kaupapa school in 2008.

Seven children gave evidence in court that when they were six or seven years old Huata either pulled their ears, kicked them or hit them with a ruler. One boy said he had a chair thrown at him.

A teacher's aide told the court she saw Huata pull students' ears, but not kick or hit them.

Two other teachers and the principal told the court they never saw any hitting, kicking or pulling of ears.

The jury deliberated for eight hours and returned its verdict on Thursday.

It found Huata guilty on seven charges of pulling students' ears, but not guilty on charges of kicking them or using a chair and a ruler as a weapon.

Huata was remanded on bail for sentencing on 25 May.