The man who knocked a Rotorua teacher unconscious has been arrested after being on the run for three months.

A police media spokeswoman said Sheldon Tawhiti-Ormsby, 18, from Rotorua, handed himself in last Sunday.

He had pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court in March to assaulting Rotorua Intermediate School teacher Alasdair Hay at school pick-up on February 27.

He admitted to punching Hay in the face, knocking him to the ground and causing him to sprain his ankle.


Tawhiti-Ormsby was due to be sentenced in the Rotorua District Court on May 9 but failed to show in court and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The assault was on Malfroy Rd, just outside the school, as pupils were being picked up just after 3pm.

Hay suffered injuries including a concussion and a badly twisted ankle with a piece of the bone cracked.

Rotorua Intermediate School. Photo / File
Rotorua Intermediate School. Photo / File

He had months of concussion symptoms including headaches and trouble concentrating.

He was arrested on last Sunday after being on the run for over three months and is due in court on October 4.

Rotorua Intermediate principal Garry de Thierry said the arrest helped show what justice looked like.

"It brings closure to the whole nasty event and now we look forward to justice being done," he said.

He said students, staff, the wider community and Hay were all affected by Tawhiti-Ormsby's actions.


de Thierry had initially hoped Hay would be back in a week after the February assault, then later at the start of Term 2 but Hay's continued concussion symptoms left him unable to return to work until two weeks ago.

Hay has begun his transition back into teaching and has been working three days a week for a few hours each day.

de Thierry said this was the first time he had had to assist a teacher in transitioning back into full-time.

"The issue that's he's finding is that teaching is very demanding," he said.

"There are hundreds of interactions every hour . . . which is the challenge for him at the moment."

Rotorua Intermediate School Principal Garry de Thierry. Photo / File
Rotorua Intermediate School Principal Garry de Thierry. Photo / File

de Thierry said the school and ACC would continue to support Hay in the transition and build his confidence after being off work for six months.

Hay would work with another teacher and build his way up from working with individual students to small groups until he was back in full swing.

But de Thierry said the length of the transition was unknown and was a difficult thing to estimate.

"It's probably like asking me for the winning Lotto numbers," he said.

But he and the school community were excited to have him back.

The police summary of facts

Tawhiti-Ormsby was a passenger in a Toyota vehicle at the school about 3pm. The area at this time was busy with many young people being picked up.

As Tawhiti-Ormsby left the school, Hay asked him to follow the flow of the traffic. The driver refused to do this.

Hay then grabbed his mobile phone and took a photo of their Toyota vehicle.

Occupants then started to verbally abuse Hay for taking the photo.

Tawhiti-Ormsby then got out of the vehicle and "charged" at Hay, punching him to his face with a closed fist and causing him to stumble and fall on the ground.

Tawhiti-Ormsby then got back in the car and it left.

When police spoke to Tawhiti-Ormsby, he admitted what he did and said he was angry at the victim because he thought the victim was being "cheeky".

Judge Hollister-Jones had also ordered restorative justice, a process where Hay and Tawhiti-Ormsby could meet if Hay agreed to do so.

Outside the court, Tawhiti-Ormsby told the Rotorua Daily Post after he appeared in March, he didn't want to comment on his guilty plea.

When asked if he had anything to say to the teacher, he said "I will go and see him in my own time".