Hundreds of Auckland secondary school students took to the streets in Otahuhu after school on July 29 in a rally against inter-school violence.
Among the goals of the march – reportedly organised by students from 15 schools working together – were raising awareness on ways to prevent inter-school violence, displaying unity and harmony between school communities, and eliminating stereotypes around Auckland schools.
The march was reportedly supported by whānau, local authorities and the wider community.
In a statement released before that march, organiser Theresa Viane of McAuley High School said: “We are always shown videos and news about students fighting or rivalries between schools, but why does this occur? We need more projects and groups that specialise in actively reaching out to students about this issue”.
In June, a brawl took place outside De La Salle College in Mangere, which saw one student stabbed in the stomach and another suffer concussion. Four teenagers were arrested and charged.
Other incidents have happened in the last 12 months, including a brawl involving 100 people that was broken up by police last September. This involved students from Manurewa High School and James Cook High School.
Inter-school online abuse has also been a problem, according to media.
Theresa Viane said that the changes promoted by the march in Otahuhu include encouraging unity, as well as “showcasing that Maori and Pasifika students are future leaders in the making who are willing to contribute and influence a change”.
A significant number of students from De La Salle College attended the march. Head boy Toma Laumalili said the march not only serves as a symbol against inter-school violence, but “as a new beginning emphasising peace and unity”.
Radio New Zealand reported Toma speaking at the march, saying that “Our school gets a lot of bad media representation . . . we’re not all about the violence”.
“I hope that we eliminate school violence and everyone rises above the hate.”