A youth programme co-ordinator who allegedly told a teenage student to "f*** off" and threatened to throw him overboard during a fishing trip has been compensated for wrongful dismissal.

The Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has found the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic was wrong to reach some of its conclusions about the actions of Youth Guarantee programme co-ordinator Kelly Pakaru.

That made his dismissal unjustified, and the polytech was ordered to pay compensation.

Mr Pakaru was dismissed in September last year following complaints about his language and conduct towards students.

Advertisement

His role involved spending most of his time with students, aged 16 and 17, in a mentoring role. Many activities were marae-based or took place outside of classrooms.

The polytech alleged he told a student to "f*** off" during a fishing trip on a boat in June last year. He was also alleged to have told the student: "I'll throw you overboard."

After the trip, another student asked him to hurry and take the students home because they were cold and wet. Mr Pakaru replied: "F*** up and wait or you can f***ing walk."

The ERA found the polytech had reasonable grounds to reach its conclusions about those allegations.

But it found the another set of allegations - including that Mr Pakaru took a student's fishing rod for his own use, sent inappropriate text messages to female students, and inappropriately placed his hand on a student's thigh - were not reasonably open to it.

The ERA said the dismissal was unjustified because the polytech had drawn on those unreasonable conclusions as part of its decision to dismiss Mr Pakaru.

"This is so even if there were reasonable grounds for the conclusions in respect of the remaining acts."

It ordered the polytech to pay 11 weeks of Mr Pakaru's salary, minus some earnings since his dismissal - about $8250 in total.

Advertisement

The ERA also ordered the polytech to pay $5000 in compensation for hurt feelings.

However, it reduced those amounts to about $5300 in total because Mr Pakaru's actions were blameworthy. It noted his swearing and threatening behaviour amounted to serious misconduct and were at odds with the standard of behaviour expected of him.

Costs were reserved.