Headmaster's message to parents

Message to Parents: 10 March, 2017

This has been a difficult week for the Wellington College community.

Firstly, I want to thank those boys who alerted us to the issues that have been the centre of so much media attention. It is not an easy thing to do – to call out bad behaviour. But they did the right thing and they represent the best of Wellington College values. I applaud them and I hope you will all support them.

Secondly, I want to update you on the steps the school has taken and is taking as a result of what we have learned this week.

As I said on Monday, I am appalled at the attitudes of the boys who wrote on the Facebook page. I am equally appalled at boys who liked the page or who saw it and did nothing. It is not ok to talk or joke about women and girls in that way. New Zealand has a shocking record of violence against women. This is not a subject for ‘banter’. It is real, it hurts and it has serious consequences.

The young women at Wellington Girls' and Wellington East Girls' Colleges are angry and upset at what has been said. We should take the time to listen to what they have to say.

For this reason, I have invited the Principal of Wellington Girls' College, Julia Davidson to come to school next Thursday to speak to assembly. She will be accompanied by some senior students who will also speak.

I also intend to visit Wellington Girls' and Wellington East Girls' Colleges in coming weeks to give them an opportunity to talk to me and also to let them know what we are doing to address the attitudes and issues that have led to this.

I also know that many boys are angry at what has been said in the past week about Wellington College. We know we are better than that and we must continue to demonstrate it.  People will have strongly held opinions and we will be respectful of them.

This week I met with the Sexual Abuse Prevention team who have been working with Wellington College for more than a year. We are now planning to strengthen our programmes educating boys about healthy relationships and consent. The programmes will be extended into the senior school. We will keep talking about this and I encourage you to talk to your son/s too.

It is my intention to hold an evening session for parents to hear about how to have difficult conversations with your son/s about consent and pornography. The details of that are still being worked on.

Lastly, I have been asked about what consequences there will be for the boys concerned. There is a process underway and I do not intend to subvert that. However, the boys will face consequences.

This has been a tough week for all of us but we are all determined that out of it, our boys will learn some valuable life lessons.

Roger Moses, ONZM