Rotorua principal blames sleep deprivation for sleeping naked with student during Mexico trip

A school principal in Rotorua has been banned from teaching in New Zealand following accusations he slept in the same bed as a student while naked, engaged in sexualised talk, was partially clothed in front of students and entered a bathroom and washed a student's back.

Desks in classroom (file picture). Source:

Uenuku Fairhall - who led Kaupapa Māori o Te Koutou, a co-educational Māori immersion school - "breached professional boundaries" during a school trip to Mexico in 2017, according to documents released today by the New Zealand Teaching Council's Disciplinary Tribunal.

Among the accuastions, Mr Fairhall is alleged to have entered a bathroom area which was occupied by a student, who he told to remove his underwear. The student tried to cover his bottom, but Mr Fairhall moved the student's hands out of the way, tribunal documents alleged.

The Complaints Assessment Committee argued that Mr Fairhall’s actions effected the emotional wellbeing of all students involved.

The tribunal described Mr Fairhall’s behaviour as "despicable" and found that cancelling his teacher registration was most appropriate.

Mr Fairhall agreed with the submissions of the committee but asked that his conduct be viewed in light of his sleep deprivation.