Bashed son's family overwhelmed by support

20:15, Mar 21 2014
Nawl family
TROUBLED FAMILY: Joseph Nawl, 15, in Wellington Hospital with a suspected broken neck. With him are sister Hlawn Nawl, 17, father Khua Kam Thang Nawl, and mother Far Can Uk.

The family of a teenager who was beaten up by another student say they have been left "speechless" by support from the community.

Joseph Nawl, 15, ended up in Wellington Hospital with a suspected broken neck after being thrown down an embankment and punched unconscious by a student at Bishop Viard College.

Police are still investigating the incident at the state-integrated school in Porirua last Wednesday.

Joseph still does not know whether or not his neck is broken.

He will be assessed again by the fracture clinic next week.

In the meantime, his father, Khua Kam Thang Nawl, continues to struggle after being diagnosed with lung cancer.


A GiveaLittle site for the Nawls has so far raised more than $8500, for which family interpreter and refugee advocate Ahniang Hlawn Ceu said the family were incredibly grateful.

"They are just speechless, Mr Nawl said that this is not something that we ever dreamed.

"We expect people might pray for us, but we never expect anything from people who care about us. Joseph's mum just broke down in tears and didn't know what to say."

"They said now we realise we are not alone in the world."

The Nawl children had not been back to school since the incident.

Mr and Mrs Nawl went to Bishop Viard for a meeting on Thursday, and the school offered to waive the fees if the children returned, Ms Ceu said.

But the Nawls did not want to accept the offer, as they said they were still too worried for their children's safety.

Housing New Zealand was organising another home for the Nawls in either Newlands or Johnsonville, because Mr Nawl was now too sick to climb the steps in their Porirua home.

They hoped to send the children to either Newlands or Onslow College, Ms Ceu said.

In a written statement yesterday, principal Teresa Cargo said the school had completed an investigation and a disciplinary process.

However, the outcome was confidential. Asked if the school would make any policy changes as a result of the incident, she said: "This will form part of the school's self-review plan."

She would not confirm if the school had offered to waive the Nawls' fees, citing privacy.

In a letter dated March 14 and sent home with all students, Ms Cargo assured parents the school was taking the "concerning incident" seriously.

The school was working to determine the details of the incident and co-operating with police, she wrote.

"In the meantime we can assure our community that our students are safe at school.

"I ask your co-operation in helping in any way you can to calm emotions and help your children . . . with any concerns."

She said the school was aware there might be "rumours" about what had happened.

She wanted parents to talk to her if they were worried.

The Dominion Post