Regional | Rotorua

Student girl left ‘covered in blood’ and concussed after bus stop bashing

Warning: Distressing content

A school student was left bloodied after she was repeatedly punched in the face by a stranger while waiting for a bus outside Rotorua Library.

She is now recovering with a concussion, split lip, swollen nose, a tender jawline, and bumps over her head.

Her mum, Tashita Morey, “just broke down” when she saw her daughter, 13, soon after the attack.

She is speaking out to raise awareness for other parents about the bus stop on Arawa St.

Her daughter went to town with her friends on Tuesday after school before catching the bus home.

Call for help

But the girl called her mother at 4.16pm, crying and saying: “Mum, someone’s beat me up”.

Morey said her daughter was dazed during the call and didn’t know where she was. Her friends walked her away from the scene.

They got to Fenton St, just past the police station, and sat and waited for Morey to arrive after she made a U-turn on her way home.

She said she was unaware of the extent of the situation.

While the girls were sitting and waiting, an off-duty police officer saw the girls and told Morey over the phone that he would take her daughter to the station to take photos for evidence and get her settled.

Soon after, Morey arrived and was shocked by what she saw as she did not realise the extent of the attack.

“She was covered in blood. Her face was covered in blood ... You just don’t picture your baby like that,” she said.

“I just broke down. I was trying to be the strongest mum, and I usually am ... it was really hard to see her like that. I just had to grab her and pulled her close.”

Morey said it was difficult for her daughter to talk to her and the police straight away as “she was not fully coherent”.

Morey said her daughter came to about an hour later and recounted what she could.

“A girl just started walking up to [her daughter] and she said she could just feel that something wasn’t right by the way that she made eye contact with her,” Morey said.

Approached by group

Morey said her daughter recalled about 15 other students with the girl that was approaching her and some had their phones up already, “like it was kind of pre-planned”.

“The girl came over and just started punching her in the face.”

She said her daughter did not know the girl. After the first punch, she said her daughter felt “really dazed” and could not recall how long the attack lasted or how it stopped.

“It was such a shock, you just don’t expect that to happen, especially when they’re surrounded by their friends in a public area.

“My baby is such a good girl, she doesn’t hang out with people like this, she’s still a child.”

Morey said her daughter recalled adults being there who “did nothing”.

“That’s what broke my daughter’s heart the most ... that was the biggest thing for her.”

Morey said she went to the library to see where it happened and there was blood on the ground.

She had been looked over by the doctor and had a concussion, split lip, swollen nose, a tender jawline and bumps around her head.

Morey said her daughter would heal physically but would need emotional and psychological support.

“She’s scared, you can see the fear ... she wouldn’t leave my side when we went to the pharmacy.”

Morey said her daughter’s school had already arranged for a counsellor for her daughter.

She would bring up the lack of adult response during the attack during counselling.

Morey said her daughter “feels sorry for the girl that’s done it to her” despite her fear. Morey said her daughter was aware of how someone’s background “can affect their behaviour”.

“I probably won’t ever let her catch the bus ... I don’t think she wants to either, she doesn’t feel comfortable doing that anymore.”

She said she would be making arrangements at work so she could do drop-offs and pick-ups.

Morey has lived in Rotorua all her life and said she used to catch the bus as well as her eldest son, who is 18 years old.

In her view: “Rotorua’s not safe ... times have changed.”

“People need to speak up when things happen”.

She said she had “no idea” how dangerous the bus stop was until this happened and she had several other parents reach out saying a similar thing happened to their child.

For parents, she said: “Just love your babies, you never know what’s going to happen”.

“That was unexpected, things could’ve gone a whole different way. Someone punching someone’s head in can get really serious.’’

Rotorua police prevention manager Inspector Phil Gillbanks said an assault involving two young people on Haupapa St on Tuesday had been reported.

“We are supporting the victim and their whānau, and the other person has been referred to the youth services process.”

Police were aware of “infrequent incidents” in the busy bus stop area.

“We are actively working with our community partners to ensure the area remains safe and any anti-social behaviour avoided.”

He encouraged people to report incidents and concerns — call 111 if it is happening now or 105 after the fact.