When Rototuna high student Timi Barabas, 18, and her family moved to New Zealand in 2017 from Hungary, she knew no English at all and was concerned at how she would fit in within a new culture. However, she was overwhelmed by the support from her new school.

As a result of this, Timi, along with fellow student Namrata Verma, created the True Colours Club, a group with the aim of creating a safe zone for students at school, and putting an end to New Zealand's alarmingly high bullying statistics.

According to the international report PISA 2015 on students' well-being, 18 per cent of New Zealand students are frequently bullied, and 15-year-olds in New Zealand are reporting the second-highest rate of bullying out of 51 countries, behind only Latvia.

Rototuna High School principal Natasha Hemara said the key thing about the True Colours Club was that it was a student led initiative.


"The students have a space to have a voice, and that flows into one of our values at school which is kindness," Ms Hemara said.

"We are a brand new school. We are novices but connecting and inspiring is critical to us. To me, the true colours team have done a phenomenal job."

As part of the True Colours Club, the group creates student-led initiatives, which included a kindness week which ran during March at both the Rototuna Junior and Senior High.

Events such as a musical concert themed around kindness, a family feud contest and Pink Shirt Day were all events that were put on by the small club.

Speaking to Hamilton News, Timi said that a community group that people could join would help make students feel more comfortable at school.

"This group gives students the chance to take action against bullies, but also provides them with a safe space to feel like they are welcomed," Timi said. "People can come to us if they need support from us."

Year 12 student Olivia Hester, who is also a member of the club, said that kindness week was to make the whole school feel included.

"We had all these events to let the students know we are here, along with pictures in the notices to show we are trying to make a difference against bullying," Hester said.


As part of Kindness Week, Timi organised the CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, Shaun Robinson to speak to both the junior and senior high school.

"This is what will make a big difference at school. Kids owning and making the changes that need to be made at school," Mr Robinson said. "What they have done with having a Kindness Week leading up to Pink Shirt Day, they know what works."

Mr Robinson said New Zealand was the second worst country in the world when it comes to bullying at school.

"There are specific things that need to be done to stand up to bullying, but ultimately the way to change it is to change the culture of schools and families to celebrate diversity.

"This club is about celebrating diversity and promoting a culture of kindness."