Thursday, June 20, 2024

Minister visits devastated Whangārei school community

Minister Kelvin Davis has visited Whangārei Boys High School in the wake of the tragic loss of a 15-year-old boy, who was swept away in waters while on a class caving trip.

The Year 11 student’s body was found by searchers in Abbey Caves on Tuesday night.

He had been part of an Outdoor Education class trip to the caves earlier that day when the group encountered a severe weather event.

“My thoughts and aroha is with the whānau in Whangārei who are coming to terms with the tragic loss of the young boy from Boys High,” said Minister Davis.

“After a couple of hui in Whangārei [on Wednesday], I headed out to check in on our whānau who were impacted by yesterday’s floods.

“It was an eye opener speaking to the kaiako of Te Horo school in Pipiwai who kicked in to action and set up the kura as a temporary evacuation centre last night.”

Local creeks are still high, and some paddocks look like lakes, said the Minister, who is a former Northland teacher and school principal.

A photo posted online by Minister Davis showing flooding in the Whangārei region this week.

“This isn’t their first rodeo, they’re planning for future events making sure they’re prepared and are well resourced,” he said.

“E mihi ana ki a koutou katoa”

Meanwhile, the school yesterday issued a statement regarding the tragic events.

“As we have already expressed that our thoughts and aroha are firmly with the whānau and the students – even more so now that a body of one of our students tragically has been recovered,” said Principal, Karen Gilbert-Smith.

“It is really important for me to let you know how devastated we are that one of our whānau have lost a much loved, and treasured, son and brother…and the impact of this tragedy is being felt widely amongst our school staff, students and community.

“I realise that people have lots of questions but I simply am not in a position to provide answers at this early stage out of respect for the whānau.

“Further to that, we need to allow a full and comprehensive investigation involving the NZ Police and Worksafe NZ into this tragic incident to be completed and which we will, of course, fully comply with.”

The Principal said the school was continuing to operate as normal and was focused on supporting whānau, staff and students impacted by the event – along with the wider school community, with assistance from iwi and appropriate agencies.

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