Teacher molested students at school

THE ACCUSED: Rueben James Parinui Tapara.
THE ACCUSED: Rueben James Parinui Tapara.

A Waikato school teacher would molest students during school hours and would regularly call one student out of class and perform sex acts in a locked resource room.

Fairfax can reveal the shocking details of Rueben James Parinui Tapara's offending while he was assistant principal at a kura kaupapa in Putaruru after he pleaded guilty to 11 charges this month.

Police have launched a wider investigation into Tapara after a Fairfax investigation revealed concerns that he may also have abused children while working at a kura at Oparure near Te Kuiti. They are asking for other victims to come forward.

Tapara, 33, was a leading figure in the Maniapoto area, with speaking rights on marae and on the boards of several family trusts, but he has been unmasked as a brazen and deviant predator.

He will be sentenced in February.

No details of the offending were read in the Hamilton District Court but Fairfax has learned the charges related to three victims and that some of the offending happened in classrooms.

Tapara would ask for one student to be brought out of class, take them to a resource room, lock the door and perform sex acts on the student.

He also took a student to a hotel and a local reserve. He would give the victim cannabis, and pay up to $80 for each sex act.

The offending happened when Tapara was assistant principal at Te Wharekura o te Kaokaoroa o Patetere in Putaruru. Tapara has been compared to James Parker, the former deputy principal at Pamapuria School in Kaitaia who was sentenced to preventive detention in August for sexually abusing 20 of his male students over 13 years.

Mike Holloway, manager of the Waikato branch of the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust, is calling for better training for school managers and recruiters to ferret out sex offenders during the recruitment process.

The Ministry of Education admits the sector has had to deal with some "challenging situations" over the past year involving sexual offending against children but says the incidents have provided "further insight into how things could be improved when allegations of abuse . . . come to light".

A Fairfax investigation has shown that an opportunity to stop Tapara was missed nine years ago when a boy at his previous school at Oparure complained that Tapara had molested him during a school trip.

A private investigator was called in but police were not notified and no further action was taken because no supporting evidence could be found.

The boy told Fairfax the school sided with Tapara and he was made to feel like a liar.

The ministry has admitted its systems were not good enough after it initially said it had no record of the 2004 incident, but later found a note that showed it had part-funded the investigation into Tapara.

Holloway said the nature of an undetected child sex offender meant that no job interview or paperwork could stop them entering a work force.

He said schools needed specially trained managers and recruiters who were able to pick up the "characteristic behaviours" of child sex offenders.

"Here is where agencies such as Child Matters run such important training courses that people in charge of children should undertake as a compulsory requirement."

Jill Bond, the ministry's acting head of sector enablement and support, said the ministry now had a senior manager as the single point of contact for sexual abuse concerns.

"This ensures that all reported incidents are recorded and acted on and managed appropriately at a national and local level," she said.

There was also a memorandum of understanding with Child, Youth and Family which had led to improvements in regard to child safety, and better guidelines to support schools dealing with "complex and difficult situations".

Waikato Times