School brawl stained the 38th Polyfest

One of the founding schools in Auckland that has pioneered the Polyfest festival since 1976 pulled out this week after a brawl that saw one of its students hospitalized.

The fight, believed to involve weapons, erupted into an uncontrollable situation between the Tongan and Samoan students of Aorere College last weekend.

Police who attended had to call for the support of their aerial service in an attempt to break up the fight.

Aorere College had 300 students from years 9 to 13 selected as representatives for the festival in 2013. The Principal, Patrick Drumm, told Radio New Zealand he was deeply concerned about the safety of his students as a whole.

“[It was a] very, very difficult decision for us. This would have been our 38th year in a row as a foundation school,” referring to their decision to pull the school out in which caused great disappointment to parents, staff and students involved.

The 4 schools that started the festival in 1976 included Seddon High School (now Western Springs College), Mangere College, Hillary College (now Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate) and Aorere College.

There are now about 60 schools participating, with more than 9,000 students involved -mostly Māori, Sāmoan, Cook Island, Tongan and Niuean.

Mr Drumm said the preparation for the festival was an “intense five or six weeks of practices” and their decision to cancel due to what happened was in the best interest of the students.

There was a rumour that the incident stemmed from a gang related activity but Mr Drumm did not confirm that.

The school was reported as having to deal with the students involved on disciplinary ground.

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