NZ First candidate faces indecent assault charges after school sports trip

A community leader who has stood for NZ First in four elections is facing five charges of indecently assaulting teenage girls after a school sports trip.

Bus and taxi driver John Hall was hired by a South Auckland secondary school to drive a group of students out of the city for a sporting event.

After the trip, five students made allegations of indecent assault leading to an appearance by Hall, 63, in the Manukau District Court on Thursday.

A police spokesman said a complaint was received on March 31 and led to inquiries that “identified five victims who reported being indecently assaulted while on the trip”. The young women were aged 16 or older.

“While police is not able comment on specific details, we can confirm that the man is not a direct employee of the school where the victims attend. We are working closely with the school who brought these matters to police attention.”

Hall’s phone numbers appeared to be disconnected and he did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

The school – which the Herald has chosen not to name – did not respond to a question over whether Hall had been police vetted before taking the children on the trip.

It has also not responded to questions about whether Hall had previously taken trips from the school, what support the school was providing to the victims and whether parents had been informed.

The principal said by text message that the school cannot comment “for all the obvious legal and child protection reasons”.

Hall’s consistent bids for political office through NZ First resulted in less than 10 per cent share of the vote in the Manurewa electorate. Only in the most recent election, when NZ First’s national vote collapsed, did he win a higher percentage of votes than the party did, winning 3.3 per cent against the party’s national haul of 2.6 per cent.

NZ First leader Winston Peters would not comment on Hall, saying he could not do so because it was before the courts. He disconnected the call when pushed, saying: “I’m not having a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent”.

Hall’s national political aspirations were mirrored by unsuccessful attempts to win a seat in local body elections. In his pitch to voters, he said: “I know of some the local issues that we need to address. I am sure that I will be able to represent our community in a positive way to achieve the right outcomes.”

He did, however, serve in a range of other community roles with an education and sporting focus.

Hall’s biography for his run at a community board seat in the 2018 local body elections stated he was serving as a Board of Trustee member for James Cook High School, which is not the school at the centre of the indecent assault allegations. He is not a current member of the board.

James Cook High School principal-tumuaki Grant McMillan confirmed Hall’s connection to the school, which had stretched over decades from his own children’s attendance through to spending several terms on the board.

He said Hall had been involved in rugby and softball at the school and had been – through the company he worked for – contracted to transport students when needed, although was not the only bus service used.

McMillan said his thoughts were with those affected by the alleged assaults. “I’m shocked and saddened.”

He said he encouraged anyone who was a victim of any type of crime or abuse to report it.

Hall also listed involvement with Manurewa Rugby Football Club, including as patron for the junior section. He is currently listed on the club’s website as its school liaison representative. Attempts to reach club management were unsuccessful.

Other community and sporting connections Hall listed included an executive role with the Counties Manukau Umpires Softball Association and serving on the board of the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club.

Hall was next due to appear in Manukau District Court on May 28.

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