National MP Sam Uffindell ‘asked to leave’ prestigious King’s College after violent nighttime attack on young boy

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New National Party MP Sam Uffindell has been asked to leave his exclusive boarding school after he violently beat a young student late at night.

Uffindell only issued an apology to the man last year, 22 years after the attack and nine months before he publicly announced his political aspirations.

He says the timing of his decision to apologize is unrelated to his decision to start a political career, but that the incident had “harassed” him and he wanted to atone.

“It was one of the dumbest, dumbest things I’ve ever done. I really regretted it, I really regret it again,” Uffindell said.

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The victim, 13 at the time, was left with severe bruising and significant trauma.

The police were not involved. Instead, Uffindell was disciplined alongside three other teenagers who joined in the beatings and demanded to leave the school, King’s College Auckland. Uffindell was in grade 11, or fifth grade, and was 16 when he attacked the young boy. He then completed his education at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton.

Uffindell entered parliament this year after winning the Tauranga by-election in June.

The victim, who Things agreed not to name due to privacy concerns for his young family, Uffindell said had contacted him out of the blue through a mutual acquaintance in July last year.

Uffindell wanted to apologize, which the victim accepted after careful consideration. Back then he had said he would never forgive the boy who had hurt him, but he had forgiven the man Uffindell had become.

“But a few months later I sat watching the news on the sofa with a beer and there he was, candidate for parliament,” the victim said. “I got sick.”

National Party leader Christopher Luxon at the <a class=election night headquarters of Tauranga candidate Sam Uffindell.” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

Mark Taylor / Stuff

National Party leader Christopher Luxon at the election night headquarters of Tauranga candidate Sam Uffindell.

Uffindell did not mention his political intentions during the apology, the victim said.

“At the time, he said not a day went by that he didn’t think about it. He used his family, saying he had daughters and would be sick if anything happened to them,” he said.

“I believed him. But seeing this made me feel that his apology was insincere, he was just doing it to get his skeletons out of the closet, so he could have a political career.

The man said the initial incident happened on the last night of term in 1999, at one of King’s College boarding houses.

He was in bed in his dorm after the lights went out when four older boys came in and jumped on him and started beating him, he said. He thought the boys were using unscrewed wooden bed legs from their dormitory.

“I was covering my head… they were crushing me,” he said. “I don’t remember much, but when it was over everyone ran into the next dorm and lay on the floor between the beds to hide.”

The victim later says photos of his injuries were taken. “They show this little skinny white kid covered in bruises,” he said. His ribs were not cracked, but there was cartilage damage.

The victim’s older brother – who was in the next dorm – remembers the whole third-grade dorm rushing in, causing massive confusion in the dark.

“We thought it was a pillow fight, an end-of-term tradition,” the brother said. “But it wasn’t, these boys were lying there saying ‘they beat him, they beat him’.”

Eventually he discovered that the boy who had been attacked was his younger brother. He grabbed a cricket bat and ran off looking for the offenders in a rage, he said. Before he could find them, the householder stopped him, took him to his office, and calmed him down.

“The householder told me he would take care of it and sent me back to sleep,” the brother said.

Things talked to three other witnesses who were present at the time.

Uffindell ran on a platform advocating better infrastructure and tougher anti-gang laws.

Provided

Uffindell ran on a platform advocating better infrastructure and tougher anti-gang laws.

Subsequently, two of the perpetrators – Uffindell and another boy – were expelled or “asked out” of the school. Two others were suspended for two weeks early the following year.

When called by ThingsUffindell said he didn’t recall the use of the footboards, but he couldn’t rule it out.

Rather, what he remembered was running into the dormitory of the third elders and beating the victim.

“I went to the person and punched her several times in the arm and body and she was injured,” he said. “It was the last day of the year and we were just silly and playing…we got carried away and did what we did.”

“I regret it and I was really stupid and I apologize for what happened, and since then I have tried to be a better person and set an example for my children. I have learned a lot from the experience of 20 years ago.

Uffindell said he decided to apologize after returning to New Zealand from overseas after a long stay abroad. He worried about the emotional damage he might have caused, he said. He was grateful that the victim spoke to him.

He said there was no connection between wanting to enter politics and the apology, which is why he did not mention the fact that he would enter politics at the time of the call.

“That was not my motivation at all. I called the guy because I regretted what happened and wanted to shut this down,” he said.

The National Party was aware of the incident when he joined, he said, and was grateful that he revealed it to them.

Sam Uffindell says he told the National Party about the incident which saw him

Mark Taylor / Stuff

Sam Uffindell says he told the National Party about the incident which saw him “asked to leave” King’s College.

Uffindell does not mention King’s College in his online biography.

The bullying incident was not disclosed to voters during Uffindell’s successful bid in this year’s Tauranga by-election. Uffindell won the seat with a comfortable majority, after it was left vacant by the resignation of former National Party leader Simon Bridges.

He gave his maiden speech in parliament last week, explaining at length how Tauranga was plagued by gang problems and a “growing culture of lawlessness, lack of accountability, a sense of impunity and significant underlying generational social issues”.

“We need friends, family and especially relatives to step up and show what is right,” he said.

The victim said he probably wouldn’t have agreed to talk to Things about the incident if Uffindell had handled the apology correctly.

“If he really cared, he would have at least warned me that he was planning to go into politics,” he said. “And he wouldn’t have waited until the last minute to apologize until he had something he wanted to do, if he was truly sorry and caring.”

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