This article is based on extracts from the Speaking Secrets podcast, a co-production by NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB. For the full episode with teacher aide Hester Tingey, as well as further interviews with school counsellor Sarah Maindonald and Netsafe Technology and Partnerships director Sean Lyons, listen to the podcast below. You can subscribe to Speaking Secrets on iHeartRadio and iTunes.

A teacher aide still cannot go to the supermarket without worrying she will see the students who filmed up her skirt in class.

Hester Tingey found out about a week after the fact that a group of teens had secretly filmed her.

She recalls a strange feeling that there was an inside joke she hadn't been let in on.


The boys had switched their phones to video mode and put them facing up in their shoes or peeking out of jacket pockets.

They put their belongings in the aisle between their desks and asked Tingey to come and help them so she would have to step over the shoes and jackets.

After finding out about the filming, Tingey remembers going home and standing over her own phone's camera.

High school students filmed up teacher aide Hester Tingey's skirt, but that won't stop her joining her dream profession. Photo / Mark Mitchell
High school students filmed up teacher aide Hester Tingey's skirt, but that won't stop her joining her dream profession. Photo / Mark Mitchell

"What could these boys have actually seen was a big thing that went through my head and then another thing was kind of like, 'Why did I wear a dress? Why did I think they were respecting me?'

"It definitely changed the way that I looked at all the students, not just the ones in that class because yes, all the people in the class knew about it but actually by that stage it had spread throughout the school and it felt like I couldn't escape it, that everybody knew."

She still can't go to the local supermarket without thinking the boys will be there - and they are.

"They're smiling and they're having a good time and they probably don't even recognise me, but it's kind of strange to think that these people have so heavily impacted on my life and they've got no idea who I am."

She is now training to be a fully qualified teacher after realising the incident was not about her - it was random.

Journalist Georgina Campbell explains why she made 'Speaking Secrets' and why it matters.

"It took me a while to realise that actually if this had happened on the street it wouldn't have affected my future goals but because of where it happened it did for a while. It definitely did, it made me not want to ever go back to a school."

Tingey reported the issue to the school, which suspended the boys involved. The school did not want to comment further.

Tingey has waited to publicly speak out, but she is determined not to be silenced.

She is also participating in a documentary series looking at the relationship between technology and students, which could be shown in classrooms around the country.

Even if her story resonated with just one person, that was enough, she said.

"My opinion on what happened is never going to change but I can change the way that I look at it, which is why I'm doing things like this podcast and like the documentary to try and put positive associations around a negative event."