A whole group of them were registered and now there is an investigation

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Koutu principal Uenuku Fairhall via Rotorua Daily Post

The principal of a Rotorua school is on leave after allegations were made about his professional conduct on a school trip to Mexico.

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Koutu students touched down at Rotorua Airport this morning, without their principal, Uenuku Fairhall, who is on leave while the allegations are investigated. He is understood to have travelled back to New Zealand separately.

The trip, involving 21 students and three teachers, was meant to last 12 weeks but was cut short by five weeks.

When approached by the Rotorua Daily Post at the airport, Board of Trustees chairwoman Ruiha Ruwhiu confirmed the group had returned “earlier than expected”.

“At this time I ask that you allow our tired students the courtesy and respect to reunite with their whanau.

As protocol they will be formally received then return home with their whanau.”

That trip will have cost a bundle and several years of man hours to fund-raise for. ?Whatever it is, it couldn’t wait until the end of the trip. ?

She said the decision to bring the students home from Mexico was made after meeting with their parents and caregivers at a whanau hui where the board informed them a concern had been raised.

“They have been kept up to date. As the students have now been welcomed home and returned to their families, we will be sending a panui (notice) to the wider whanau.”

She said returning home was in the interests of the whole group.

“We are committed to handling this sensitively for everyone and will be talking with individuals/whanau about what support, if any, they require.

“The Board takes all concerns seriously and will be investigating and reviewing all aspects of this situation.”

This was the fourth time the school had embarked on a Mexico trip, which it does every three years. This year’s trip cost each student $12,000 [in cash and fundraising].

Just as well these people are registered. ?That ensures they are quality people, screened not to be ratbags or predators, and our kids are in good hands.

Judging by the language used, this will not end well.


– Stephanie Arthur-Worsop, Rotorua Daily Post