Parents at Rotorua's John Paul College shocked after videos of school brawls posted online

A parent of a student at an elite Catholic college in Rotorua says not enough is being done to prevent "horrific bullying and fighting" on school grounds after a swathe of videos of pupils fighting each other was shared on social media.

Newshub has obtained footage of five separate fights at John Paul College all believed to have been filmed within the last month, in which students across a range of age groups and genders can be seen engaging in violent brawls at the school or on buses.

In one particularly vicious video allegedly filmed on Monday, two girls can be seen wrestling and throwing punches at each other in a fracas that leaves one of them on the ground and the other with a bleeding nose.

A large group of students can be seen and heard in the background, but no staff appear.

In another clip said to have been filmed last Friday, two older students can be seen punching and kicking one another in a toilet as fellow students spur them on with encouragement over their "good combos".

Other videos show younger, male John Paul College pupils scrapping during bus journeys or on the school field during break time.

'I just found video after video'

The parent who spoke to Newshub says fights between pupils are occurring almost daily on school grounds. But she only discovered they were happening late last week, after a parent shared a video of the boys fighting in the toilet.

The emergence of that video prompted her to look through her son's social media, where she found a Snapchat group he was part of that had "hundreds of members" from the school.

"I went through and just found video after video of kids fighting at JPC," she said.

"It's the length of it that's scary - that nobody speaks and stops it. There's heaps of kids in the video from [Monday] congregating. I don't understand how that doesn't prompt teachers to run to the area…

"It's horrific... A lot of the parents are starting to get very concerned."

Three of the videos showed John Paul College students fighting on school grounds.
Three of the videos showed John Paul College students fighting on school grounds. Photo credit: Supplied / Newshub.

She says nothing ever seems to be done about it.

"There's no communication with parents. The school is putting on a front that they're perfect - and the parents have just had enough. We just want them to take some sort of action to keep the kids safe."

But Principal Patrick Walsh told Newshub the school is taking action. He says John Paul College takes fighting seriously and are now in the process of disciplining the students involved. 

"The college has a dedicated and very responsive pastoral team who are managing the incident well," he said. "These are isolated incidents but happen in every school from time to time."

But the parent says that's not good enough.

"We know fighting happens in lots of schools, but you also see these other schools coming out and making it known they won't stand for it… The [school is] not addressing it and it is actually quite scary, these videos.

"I mean, other schools are expelling kids… if there's no consequence, then how are [the attackers] going to learn that it's not OK?"

Two of the videos showed pupils fighting each other on the bus.
Two of the videos showed pupils fighting each other on the bus. Photo credit: Supplied / Newshub.

In an email sent to parents after Newshub made enquiries about the videos, Walsh said John Paul College had already stood down or suspended some of the students involved in the brawls.

He also announced there would be an assembly held on Wednesday, at which he would speak to students about the fights, the filming of them and the response of students who came across the videos.

John Paul College punishments 'ridiculous'

The parent says her son has been bullied at John Paul College in the past, and seeing the recent videos makes her "very nervous" about what may happen in the future.

This is particularly because when he was targeted by other students, she felt the students who attacked him got away without the appropriate disciplinary action being taken.

"They had to write him a letter and were 'internally stood down' - so for a day they go into a different classroom which, in my opinion, is ridiculous," she explained.

"They also have friendship talks, so if kids are fighting, they have the two kids talk and then they say 'they're all friends now' - when of course they're going to be friends in a meeting."

The parent told Newshub John Paul College is desperate to retain its image as a "perfect" Catholic school, and deliberately stays quiet on issues to protect its reputation.

But Walsh says this is "completely incorrect", and is adamant their paramount concern is the student's safety.

The fight videos come just days after an independent investigation cleared John Paul College of allegations of racism, bullying and elitism, according to The Rotorua Daily Post.

The school's board of trustees had ordered the probe "by its own choice" in April after Bishop of Hamilton, Stephen Lowe, received a complaint about "systemic racism'' resulting in Māori withdrawing or choosing not to enrol at the college.

While the review found the claims to be "false or incorrect", it recommended the college appoint a senior staffer responsible for Māori achievement, develop relationships with iwi and regularly update the board of trustees on student retention and reasons for leaving, the Post reports.

Correction: A previous version of this article included a quote from a parent who incorrectly suggested hundreds of children were filming the fights. This has been removed.