Easy access to ''quite serious drugs'' means Queenstown
children, some as young as 13, are going on weekend benders.
It has been a year since Steve Hall was appointed Wakatipu
High School principal after former principal Lyn Cooper
resigned, was reinstated, then resigned again.
Mr Hall gave a stark account of what living in Queenstown
meant for some pupils.
Mr Hall was the guest speaker at the Queenstown Citizens
Advice Bureau's annual meeting.
In the 1990s, he was head of department for outdoor
recreation at Wakatipu High School, year 11 dean and taught
English and economics before leaving the resort.
Back then, Queenstown had party-town issues, he said.
''This is not just now, this has been going on forever.''
The easy access to drugs ''exists for kids in our school as
it exists to others in the community''.
''We get kids who are sent here to relatives ... we have kids
who go AWOL for whole weekends - and I'm talking about
''Some of them lead huge lives and really, really big stuff
goes on for them.''
To counter this, the school has put ''a really big focus'' on
NCEA level 2, especially for boys, as research has shown the
longer males stay in education the better their outcomes in
life will be, including health.
There was also a focus on Maori and Pasifika pupils and
children of temporary migrants.
The diversity of life in Queenstown means while some pupils
spend parts of the year skiing, the school buys shoes for
their classmates whose parents are struggling financially.
''We definitely have some parents of considerable means ...
and we really have the opposite. We have families here who
might be working on close to the minimum wage, paying
''There is no money to buy a $30 polo shirt. We buy kids [a]
At the other end of the scale ''we have not said anything
about bringing a device [electronic] but if you walk into a
senior classroom, about 80%-100% of the kids have got a
He said the high decile school needed as much revenue as it
could get just to run the school well, and this included
asking families to pay the school donation, ''but we know
that for some families this is a genuine issue''.
''This year, we have encouraged those families to engage with
us. Sometimes the kids do it on the family's behalf.''
Wakatipu Youth Trust team leader Poppie Gerber said the
Queenstown youth community faced challenges and the trust was
there to support and advocate.
''We fully support Wakatipu High School and their desire to
find solutions to the challenges they face.
"There are a number of specialist agencies in the community
that are dedicated towards helping youth and by working
together we can foster strengths and positive attitudes to
address those challenges that affect our youth and create