The man who saved a bus load of school children from a gang attack is being labelled a hero, but the humble driver said he was just doing his job. The veteran driver of 20 years acted as a human shield to prevent five teenagers alleged to have been carrying weapons, from storming the bus.
About 30 students from Hastings Boys', Hastings Girls' and Karamu High schools, the Akina Activity Centre and Hastings Intermediate were on board when the incident happened in Havelock North about 3.45pm on Thursday afternoon. It is alleged that after a verbal altercation between Hastings Boys' students and two boys from the activity centre one of the boys text family members who were waiting at the Te Aute Road stop when the bus arrived.
The driver, who did not wish to be named for his own safety, said as the two Akina students got off the bus a group of two females and three males attempted to board.
The driver said they told him they were going to "f** that guy up."
The driver got one student in a headlock and used him as a battering ram to force the others outside.
He gave one student a cellphone to call police and instructed another to hold down the door close button.
The driver then stood in front of the closed doors and told the teens "do whatever you want but you're not getting on this bus."
When they were unable to board, the group smashed the windows with rocks.
The group fled when police arrived but were quickly found and arrested.
Police said when the teenagers were arrested three of them were carrying knives.
Hastings Boys' students called the experience "terrifying", "traumatic", and "life-threatening".
The Hastings boys' Principal Rob Sturch thanked the driver for his bravery and for keeping his students safe.
Parents, students and colleagues have all expressed gratitude to the driver for his actions.
Nimon and Son's general manager Pete Patterson said it was no surprise the driver acted the way he did because of his "intestinal fortitude".
Police today confirmed two 15-year-old females, a 12-year-old male and 13-year-old male were all charged with inciting violence, assault, possession of offensive weapon.
A female was also charged with wilful damage.
They will all appear in Hastings Youth Court next week.
A mother of two of the teenagers who allegedly threatened the bus driver was charged with threatening behaviour.
Nimon and Son's are in discussions with the the Akina Activity Centre regarding the future of the two boys on the bus. The Akina Activity Centre caters for students struggling with other forms of secondary schooling provision and are at risk of low educational outcomes.
"It will be our recommendation that they no longer travel with us," Mr Patterson said.