Shuttleworth's critics damn themselves

Last updated 11:30 01/08/2013

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OPINION: I am a Samoan, a proud Southlander and the principal of a school with a range of different cultures and beliefs.

A real strength of our school is the diversity we have and how we are all one community.

I have been watching the Gregory Shuttleworth story develop and although I do not condone his actions, I do believe that the immense pressure and scrutiny he is under is way out of balance.

At our school we have the values of respect and responsibility, instead of a raft of rules, and we discuss how these values look in the playground, classroom and around the school.

The children understand we make mistakes and when we do, we need to ''Own it, fix and learn from it''.

It's a part of the restorative practice in our school, as we want to restore relationships instead of being punitive and ''destroying'' those who make mistakes. Because that is what will make a positive change in our community and eventually we will need that same grace for the mistakes we make.

Mr Shuttleworth has apologised, he has owned his behaviour and I would say that he will learn from this. How we respond to situations like this can build a community, or destroy it.

Watching from the outside, I wonder if I want to be a part of a community that destroys people for making mistakes.

I think long-term attitudinal change would come from a little grace shown to Mr Shuttleworth at this time. Not the outpouring of hate, which is exactly the sentiment that we have judged and executed him on.

The pressure he is subjected to at present is very reminiscent of bullying; constant attacks, with no hope of reprieve.

The issue of racism is not a light issue, but the antidote to hate cannot be more hate. It has to be tolerance, grace, forgiveness, genuine community and love.

STAN TIATIA

Invercargill

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