By RNZ's Eleisha Foon

A student who sent a selfie via Snapchat showing her face with black paint and the caption "wassup my n****" has left Auckland's Westlake Girls High School, the college has confirmed.

The selfie was reportedly sent to a friend during the lockdown and has since been shared widely across social media platforms.

The image was shared on the same day George Floyd was killed in the US by white police officers, which has this week sparked widespread protest action and civil unrest across the US, and solidarity marches in New Zealand.


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A spokesperson of Westlake Girls High said they had "spoken to the student and her parents, and as a result that student has chosen not to return to school".

When first asked to address the outcome of the investigation today the school replied:

"Westlake Girls High School is a multi-cultural school that genuinely celebrates diversity and works hard to foster a culture that allows all students to feel respected for who they are. We have never condoned racist behaviour of any type, at any time.

"Our school has been the subject of a large amount of social media commentary over the past week, especially for a perceived lack of action because we have chosen not to publicly comment as we work through this issue within our school.

"As you would expect, some of this has been abusive. Our students and parent community remain our primary focus and we are in the process of engagement with both, so that we can use this opportunity positively to heal and move forward."

The announcement comes after the school had been accused of siding with the student who posed in blackface.

A student who asked to remain anonymous earlier told the Herald that the school "has not responded appropriately" and "I and a bunch of peers find it offensive and disgusting".


"It feels like the school is more disappointed in those of us who find the blackface picture offensive than the girl who actually painted her face black," she said.

"It's like their response is primarily focused on making sure the school maintains a 'good' reputation rather than educating students on the effects of racism and the wellbeing of the students who are affected by it."

The student said the school has "victimised the girl who painted her face black and tried to make us feel sorry for her because she apparently didn't know any better. It stinks of white privilege," she added.

The student said at the time the school had advised students "not to speak about it".

Numerous students who have condemned the selfie online have also added calls for people not to bully the girl in the selfie but all agree in their posts that "casual racism" needs to be pointed out, or risks being normalised.

After complaints were made on social media, the school sent an email to students last Thursday afternoon to let them know the matter is under investigation.

Another Westlake Girls pupil told the Herald she is "glad they are now taking action" and described the school's response as "a step in the right direction".

- additional reporting