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Friday, 16 March 2012

Toran Tiavare Henry - humiliation video as he was beaten up at Takapuna Grammar unofficial "fight club" - FIDDAMAN blog ... d=10500954

Boy's death highlights top school's 'fight club'

5:00AM Sunday March 30, 2008

By Stephen Cook and Cliff Taylor

Toran Tiavare Henry

A Takapuna Grammar student took his own life a day after he was beaten up in a fight videoed by other students and replayed on their mobile phones.

The death of teenager Toran Tiavare Henry, 17, has shocked students and parents and brought to light an unofficial "fight club" organised by about a dozen students and operating in secret at the school.

Two days before Toran committed suicide he was seen arguing with another student during a "fight club" punch-up behind the school's rowing sheds, watched by up to 200 teenagers.

That altercation led to a fight the following day during the lunch break just outside the school gates.

A group of about 15 students watched that fight while a few videoed the beating, which left Toran nursing bruises and cuts to his face as he was punched to the ground.

That cellphone video was watched afterwards by dozens of students from the school. Just over 24 hours later Toran was found dead at home.

The school is being accused of not doing enough to help the troubled teenager, who suffered from depression and had once before tried to take his own life.

Students also claim that Toran's mental state wasn't helped by the school's "heavy-handed" attitude towards him.

They say the school had refused to allow him back this year to get the six credits he required to get into AUT, a claim dismissed by school principal Simon Lamb, who maintained Toran had never been "excluded" from the school.

Lamb, however, refused to elaborate on this or answer other Herald on Sunday questions about Toran.

In a five-line statement to the newspaper, Lamb said that "the situation is tremendously sad and extremely delicate" and students and the wider community were mourning the "sudden loss of one of its students".

He also refused to explain why he had tried to attend Toran's funeral despite requests from the family not to do so.

Board of trustee members contacted by the Herald on Sunday also refused to comment, referring all questions to Lamb.

Toran's mother, Maria Bradshaw, declined to speak to the Herald on Sunday about her son's death, but students who spoke to her in the past week claimed she was critical of the way the school had treated him.

They claimed the school was well aware he suffered from depression, but did nothing to support him through it.

Sharlene Pirikahu, a neighbour of Bradshaw's, was upset at the school's handling of Toran and said she had been through similar difficulties with her son Peter. He had complained about being bullied, but Pirikahu said teachers had told him it was all in his head. She said the situation eventually got to the point where she had to remove her son from the school.

A school friend of Toran's, Zealand Watene, said the teenager had had a difficult time of it at school, and was often "picked on".

Watene was one of the teenagers who established the so-called "fight club", which he said was basically an organised fight ring involving a group of "boys being boys".

The club was established about a month ago, he said, but he had pulled out recently because "it got too big too quickly".

Students would usually fight at lunchtime with boxing gloves "anywhere where the teachers couldn't see us".

Another student said Toran had traded verbal insults with another student on March 18 when he turned up for a lunchtime fight between two boys behind the rowing sheds, watched by about 200 pupils. Toran had been on the school grounds in the first instance to drop off lunch for his girlfriend, and was verbally abused.

He agreed to meet another boy the next day outside the school gates, but students said the fight was over very quickly when Toran's jersey was pulled over his head and he was punched to the ground.

"The kids were videoing it and calling Toran a pussy," one student said.

Around 4.30pm the following day neighbours reported hearing the screams of Toran's mother as she discovered her dead son. One neighbour tried to resuscitate the boy.

Since Toran's death, carloads of friends and students have been visiting Bradshaw to pay respect. Others have been wearing remembrance T-shirts to school as a tribute to the dead teen.

Ministry of Education spokesman Iain Butler said the death of any student was regarded as a traumatic incident and specialist teams were available to offer help and advice.

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