By: Peter de Graaf
Staff at Bay of Islands College in Kawakawa are racing to repair the damage from a devastating vandalism attack before a new crop of students arrives next month.
A single boy armed with a hammer smashed doors and windows, trashed a staff workroom and damaged the canteen about 5am on January 6. He inflicted similar damage at the neighbouring community pool and recreation centre, only recently taken over by Sport Northland.
Most devastating of all, however, was his attack on the school trophy cabinet. Covering an entire wall in the foyer it was crammed with trophies dating back to the school’s founding in the 1950s.
Every pane of glass in the cabinet was shattered and many of the trophies and carvings are damaged.
Board of Trustees chair Del Bristow said the cost was still being counted but it almost certainly be in the tens of thousands of dollars. It was a cost the school could ill afford — especially coupled with a recent drop in funding when the school was bumped from decile 1 to 2 — so she was hoping for assistance from the Ministry of Education.
The ”real heartbreaker”, however, was the damage to the trophy cabinet.
Ms Bristow was anxious to have the damage repaired before students returned to start the new school year.
”We want them to be able to focus on education, not on the damage to the school,” she said.
Principal John Paitai said it saddened him that the boy who had been arrested was a former pupil who still had whanau at the school.
”We put a lot of resources into trying to help this young fellow when he was here . . . so it was devastating to see the mindless damage.”
The school and the pool were fitted with security cameras and an alarm, but the boy paid no heed to either. He was still on the school grounds when staff, alerted by the alarm, arrived to see what was happening.
”There’s so little you can do. You just leave it in the hands of the law,” Mr Paitai said.
At least three other boys were present but were not thought to have taken part in the vandalism spree.
The only good thing was that it happened in the summer holidays so most staff had been spared seeing the carnage.
It was also an attack on the traditions and history of a school which had produced leaders of national and even international standing, such as Mike Moore and Kelvin Davis.
Ms Bristow urged the community to get behind the college and help look after it. It provided a service essential to the district’s future and was as integral to its well-being as St John Ambulance, Fire Service and the hospital.
Police say a 16-year-old Kawakawa boy has been arrested in relation to vandalism at college, pool and recreation centre. He appeared in the Kaikohe Youth Court on January 8 charged with burglary and wilful damage.
Te Papawai Community Pool was closed for a day as result of the attack.
School starts again in two weeks’ time.
■ Can you help repair the college’s broken trophies? Email Mr Paitai on firstname.lastname@example.org or call the school office after January 22 on (09) 404 1055.
Source: Newstalk ZB