A former Northland
principal who took her concerns about paedophile teacher
James Parker to authorities says she was vilified in Kaitaia
for speaking up.
Parker is facing 23 new charges of sexual offending against
boys, in addition to 49 charges the former Pamapuria School
deputy principal pleaded guilty to earlier this year. A
pre-sentence report recommends preventative detention.
Former Oturu School principal Fiona Lovatt Davis said she
went to police in 1999 after Parker's then girlfriend, who
worked at the school as a teacher aide, told her Parker would
leave their bed to sleep with pupils staying at their home.
Before that point no one in the school community, who knew
the teacher as Jamie, had any suspicions about him, Ms Lovatt
"Parker was a delightful young man, relaxed, sober ... we all
loved him and felt he brought some special qualities to our
school. I did not have any reason to believe he would become
a paedophile. He was kind of gormless and asexual."
She claims police did not visit the school or follow up the
allegation with pupils or the girlfriend, while a
representative of teachers' union NZEI picked Parker's side
and stuck to it.
Police were unavailable for comment while NZEI did not
respond to Weekend Herald inquiries.
Ms Lovatt Davis told Radio New Zealand she was viewed as
someone who would "hunt my teachers down as if there was some
vendetta rather than just a simple responsibility as an
employee of the Crown".
She calls the local union representative a "weak link in the
chain" and says she was "vilified" by the community at public
meetings for going to police over a man people respected.
Rules covering an employment investigation hampered her from
speaking out and it was a case which revealed changes were
"I was bound by confidentiality, sharing the information I
had with only the police officer and my [board of trustees]
chairperson. Jamie was not bound to be confidential. He was
free to speak widely in the community, putting a slant on
events that cast me as zero and made him a hero."
The relief she felt now at having done the right thing was
overshadowed by the pain many children and their families
were going through, she said. It was distressing that
Parker's former students would be sitting exams just 500m up
the road from the Kaitaia District Court, she added.
"It's more important to make sure that every family of every
child Jamie ever taught is directly asked, by caring people
with considerable expertise, whether they are safe and able
to move forward."
Pamapuria School commissioner Larry Forbes has described
Parker as a master manipulator who used situations and
relationships to continue his offending.
An independent report from lawyer Robin Arthur has found that
while many had suspicions, few took any action to stop him.
One boy retracted an allegation in part after a discussion
with grandparents who told him his teacher's career could be
- Yvonne Tahana, NZ Herald