Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

School gala rip-off: Principal humbled by donations

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Westbrook School student council presidents Harry Koller-Schultz, 10, left, and Haylee Fraser, 10, with principal Colin Watkins. Photograph by Ben Fraser
Westbrook School student council presidents Harry Koller-Schultz, 10, left, and Haylee Fraser, 10, with principal Colin Watkins. Photograph by Ben Fraser

A Rotorua principal has been left "embarrassed and humbled" after receiving thousands of dollars in donations, making up for the loss caused by fake tickets at the school's gala.

Westbrook School principal Colin Watkins said in excess of $6000 had been donated by three local businesses since the incident was made public.

Around 300 counterfeit tickets were discovered while school staff were tallying the results of this year's gala.

Mr Watkins said he was overwhelmed by the generosity of Harcourts Rotorua, Independent Flooring Services and Connectec, that donated to the school.

"These contributions have been embarrassing - we are so humbled by the generosity of our community.

"We never lost faith in the type of community we were living in, this has just reaffirmed what we already believed."

He said his phone had been ringing non-stop and he was being stopped in the street by strangers, expressing their outrage at what had happened.

"The general response has been condemnation of the people who made the fake tickets and there is still chatter going on about it."

Mr Watkins said Board of Trustees member Graeme Bentley was offering a $500 reward for information about the fake tickets that led to an arrest.

"The person or people who have done this are keeping a low profile but we are confident somebody knows something and our ultimate hope is that the offenders get caught."

Harcourts Rotorua business owner Glenn Austin said he and his team "were annoyed, like the rest of the community, when we heard what had happened to the school".

"We were annoyed when we found out, particularly because the money raised from the gala goes towards helping disadvantaged children at the school."

Mr Austin said Harcourts was happy to help make up for the loss caused by the counterfeit tickets and was "chuffed" other businesses did the same.

Independent Flooring Services co-owner Brendon Hurihanganui said he had heard about the incident through the grapevine then had the rumour confirmed when the school sent out a newsletter.

"It's pretty rough stealing from kids.

"I have two children at the school and so when I found out what had happened I wanted to do something to help."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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