Pupil dies at intermediate school in Auckland

The principal of an Auckland intermediate school has confirmed a Year 8 pupil died on its grounds this week.

“Our thoughts and support go out to the family and friends at this difficult time,” Ponsonby Intermediate School principal Nick Wilson said in a statement to The New Zealand Herald today.

Police said they were called about 2pm on Tuesday to the school, where a child had died.

The matter had been referred to the coroner, a spokesman said.

Wilson sent a statement to parents of the school’s 570 pupils on Tuesday night, informing them of the death.

Wilson said children badly affected by the news were encouraged to contact the school guidance team or senior leadership for advice.

In another statement to parents on Wednesday, Wilson said: “This death will create a void in our school.”

Ministry of Education Hautu (leader) for Te Rai Raro Isabel Evans said the ministry’s traumatic incident team was supporting the school’s leadership team and would be available for as long as needed.

The school was blessed by a kaumatua on Thursday morning, Wilson told the Herald.

The coroner’s office confirmed the death of a child had been reported to the National Initial Investigation Office.

No further information was available, a spokeswoman said.

Psychotherapist Kyle MacDonald, who specialises in childhood trauma, said some parents’ first instinct after a tragic event was to pretend it did not happen to protect their children, he said. At the other end of the spectrum, some parents felt they needed to urgently raise the matter with their children and talk it through.

“Neither extreme is particularly useful,” he said. “It’s about letting your kids know they can talk about anything that’s bothering them and being straightforward about it.

“But feeling like you have to sit them down and talk about it and make sure they’re ok can actually make a bigger deal for them.”

After such an event, however, he said parents should pay special attention to their children because they did not always express emotions directly.

MacDonald provided some advice for parents whose children wanted an explanation.

“The main thing is to not feel frightened that as a parent you are going to do anything bad or wrong that will make the situation worse.

“It’s really about being able to empathise and let them talk, and if you do feel like you’re in over your head then it’s perfectly fine to suggest they might want to check in with a counsellor or you might want to check in with them.”