Staff at Bay of Islands College in Kawakawa are racing to repair the damage from a devastating vandalism spree before a new crop of students arrives next month.
A single boy armed with a hammer allegedly smashed doors and windows, trashed a staff workroom and damaged the canteen about 5am on January 6. He inflicted similar damage at the neighbouring community pool and recreation centre, only recently taken over by Sport Northland.
Most devastating, however, was his alleged attack on the school trophy cabinet. Covering an entire wall in the foyer, the cabinet was crammed with trophies dating back to the school's founding in the 1950s. Every pane of glass in the cabinet was shattered, and many of the trophies and carvings were damaged.
Board of trustees chairman Del Bristow said the cost was still being counted, but it would almost certainly be in the tens of thousands of dollars. It was a cost the school could ill afford, especially coupled with a recent drop in funding when the school was bumped from Decile 1 to 2, so she was hoping for assistance from the Ministry of Education.
Bristow was anxious to repair the damage before students returned to start the new school year.
"We want them to be able to focus on education, not on the damage to the school," she said.
Principal John Paitai said it saddened him that the boy arrested for the damage was a former pupil who still had whanau at the school.
"We put a lot of resources into trying to help this young fellow when he was here, so it was devastating to see the mindless damage," he said.
The school and the pool had security cameras and an alarm, but the boy allegedly paid no heed to either. He was still on the school grounds when staff, alerted by the alarm, arrived to see what was happening.
"There's so little you can do. You just leave it in the hands of the law," Paitai said.
At least three other boys were present but were not thought to have taken part in the attack on the traditions and history of a school that had produced leaders of national and international standing, such as Mike Moore and Kelvin Davis.
Bristow urged the community to get behind the college. It provided a service essential to the district's future and was as integral to its well-being as St John, Fire and Emergency and the hospital.
Police say a 16-year-old Kawakawa boy appeared in the Kaikohe Youth Court on Monday last week charged with burglary and wilful damage.
Anyone who might be able to help repair the damaged trophies is invited to email Paitai (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the school office on (09) 404-1055 next week.