Rotorua organisations and parents are feeling the absence of an anti-bullying programme in local schools.

It comes after a video surfaced this week showing a violent assault at a Rotorua high school.

The video quickly went viral online, being viewed more than 40,000 times in the first 24 hours.

Government-funded service Bully Free Bro was developed by Te Waiariki Purea Trust staff and introduced in March 2013, but funding ceased in October 2015.

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It involved thousands of children in more than 20 Rotorua schools, teaching them about types of bullying and what could be done to prevent it.

Trust manager Laurie Duran said he still got requests for the service.
"The need is still out there for some sort of a service and programme to support individuals and organisations.

"Unfortunately bullying is alive and well in our community."

He said that when a programme such as Bully Free Bro was removed, it put more pressure on other mental health services.

"It's all tied into mental health. Bullying, self-harm, and suicide are all connected."

Warren Tumarae was the programme co-ordinator.

Tumarae looked for work elsewhere when the Government did not renew the contract and left Rotorua four months ago.

"Teachers and parents would tell me how the messaging was having a positive impact on the kids and the attitudes in the schools.

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"Kids were even using the term 'Bully Free Bro' to friends. So I knew the message was working."

He said bullying stemmed from children's home environments, role models in their lives and circumstances.

Tumarae said he was concerned about the gap left behind.

"I had a sustainability plan for the programme but unfortunately was unable to see it fulfilled. Bullying is not going anywhere and seems to be just moving from one form to the next.

"There's a lot that needs to be done. I hope that this type of work can be reactivated in Rotorua as it worked."