Swastikas increase schools’ rivalry tensions

Graffiti, including a swastika, spray-painted on the sign at the main entrance to St Kevin’s...
Graffiti, including a swastika, spray-painted on the sign at the main entrance to St Kevin’s College. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The spray-painting of swastikas at the main entrance to St Kevin’s College has left the Oamaru school reeling, as tensions continue to rise ahead of the rugby game against Waitaki Boys’ High School to be held on Friday.

Waitaki Boys’ rector, Darryl Paterson, after discussions with St Kevin’s principal, Paul Olsen, yesterday confirmed the game would take place, despite the second serious incident at St Kevin’s within a week.

Oamaru police were investigating the vandalism, carried out on Monday night, which involved at least one red-coloured swastika being spray-painted on a white sign over the Catholic school’s name and religious symbol, accompanied by the words ‘‘Up Taki’’ and ‘‘Waitaki’’.

Several red brick pillars linked with chains were targeted, again with swastikas and ‘‘Waitaki’’. The white entrance gates also had evidence of red graffiti.

The bulk of the graffiti had been removed when the Otago Daily Times visited the school yesterday.

Mr Olsen said in an emailed statement neither the school nor the Oamaru community would stand for such attacks.

‘‘As a college family, we are very disappointed with the continued vandalising of our property, including our religious icons. We were exceptionally affronted that a Nazi swastika had been used. We are sure that there are very few members of the Oamaru community who would condone that type of messaging.’’

Mr Olsen was unable to be contacted for further comment yesterday.

Mr Paterson was ‘‘extremely disappointed’’ by the vandalism and concerned the image of Waitaki Boys’ was being tarnished.

He accused the media of adding to the tension by using the term ‘‘Blood Match’’, the name used by the community for decades to describe the rugby clash.

‘‘You guys are not helping out much here by calling it ‘affectionately the Blood Match’. How can it be affectionate?’’ Mr Paterson said.

‘‘It doesn’t help us. It stirs up emotions and anybody you talk to who speaks to me about this match, they say, ‘Please don’t call it that’ because it only inflames people’s emotions about the whole day.

‘‘It’s just ingrained now, I think. It’s a bridge too far at this stage.’’

He was also upset eggs were hurled at the main Waitaki Boys’ building on Monday night, saying the culprits could not be identified through CCTV.

A man who lived near St Kevin’s, who did not want to be named, said he witnessed the aftermath of the attack on the school and was in disbelief.

‘‘I’m disgusted. Absolutely disgusted. I don’t have any bias towards any schools, but to see something like that, it doesn’t look well for the boys who have done that.

‘‘I’m all for a few pranks and all of that, but when you start defacing property with what they have put on there, it’s quite disgusting and does not give the school [Waitaki] a good name at all.’’

A police media spokeswoman said the vandalism happened between 6pm on Monday and 8am yesterday, and was reported to police about 2.30pm.

Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy, of Oamaru, could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

It is the second serious incident at the school in the space of a week, after a group believed to be made up of about 30 former Waitaki Boys’ pupils entered St Kevin’s grounds last Wednesday, where an altercation broke out between St Kevin’s pupils and the former Waitaki Boys’ pupils.

An 18-year-old male sustained a fractured collarbone in the fracas, and Oamaru police have since confirmed an assault complaint was being investigated.

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

 

 

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