School Board Apologises for Student Involvement in Brawl and Call for Balanced Media Reporting

L: File photo of Police with St Joseph College and Leifiifi College students in a holding cell, June 2020. R: Chairman of Marist Brothers School Governance Board Tuatagaloa Aumua Ming Leung Wai.

Thursday 8 September 2022, Apia Samoa. The Governance Board of the Marist Brothers School have issued a formal apology for the involvement of St Joseph College students in a brawl that broke out near the Savalalo Market last Monday afternoon.

Samoa Police confirmed they had reponded to a fight between students of St Joseph’s College and Leifiifi College. Parents and by-standers intervened to stop the brawl and encourage students onto buses home.

In a press release issued by the Chairman of the Marist Brothers School Governance Board, Tuatagaloa Aumua Ming Leung Wai, issues an official apology, and calls for balanced media coverage from the local media.

Tuatagaloa Ming Leung Wai

“The College’s Board, Principal and staff humbly apologise to Samoa and the parents and supporters of the College about the College’s involvement with the brawl..

“Violence is never condoned and is contrary to the Marist Spirit and Christian principles taught at the College,” states the Governance Board.

“All we ask for is for calm and understanding as Police and the schools involved conduct their investigations and hold to account those who are behind the brawl.”

The Chairmans states that preliminary investigations conducted by police, shows the fight to have been started by students of another school.

“We also ask the media for balance reporting”.

In the statement, however, Tuatagaloa and the Marist Brothers School Governance Board took up full reponsiblity for any part of the violence perpetrated by St Joseph’s College students, and commit to taking appropriate action to ensure similar incidents are avoided.

“Irrespective of who started the fight, the unfortunate resulting melee is not an excuse nor a reflection of what St Joseph’s College and Marist tradition represent”.

“Please rest assured that the Governance Board and St Joseph’s College Principal and staff are doing their best to achieve reconciliation and re-affirm the Marist Spirit so that all students are safe”.

Fighting between high school students is an ongoing issue in Samoa that goes back in time for decades.

More recently in 2016, the Government put a stop to all inter-school sports including the competitive rugby and athletics events, due to a string of school brawls in the Apia town area.

In 2018, a brawl at the Salelologa market in Savaii saw the involvement of village councils to try and control students, often retaliating to more minor incidents that elevate quickly to school fighting because students will always take sides and defend their fellow school mates.

In June 2020, truck loads of over 50 students from the Apia area were taken by Police to Headquarters. Police Commissioner Sua Fuiavailiili Egon Keil said at the time that restorative justice is considered first, with first offending students being given a stern talking to by Police, while they await parents.