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

The National Party’s newest MP, Sam Uffindell, has been asked to leave his exclusive boarding school after brutally beating a younger student on a night out.

Uffindell only offered 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 not related to his decision to start a political career, but that he had been “tricked” by the incident and wanted to atone.

“It was one of the dumbest, stupidest things I’ve ever done. I regretted it very much, I still regret it very much,” Uffindell said.

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

The police did not intervene. Instead, Uffindell was disciplined along with three other teenagers who joined in the beating and asked to leave the school, King’s College in Auckland. Uffindell was in year 11, or fifth form, and 16 when he attacked the younger boy. He completed his studies at St Paul’s Collegiate in Hamilton.

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

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

Uffindell wanted to apologize, which after some thought, the victim accepted. At the time, he said he would never forgive the boy who hurt him, but instead forgave the man Uffindell had become.

“But a few months later I sat watching the news on the couch with a beer and there he was, running for Parliament,” the victim said. “I felt sick.”

National Party leader Christopher Luxon at Tauranga candidate Sam Uffindell's election night headquarters.

Mark Taylor/Things

National Party leader Christopher Luxon at Tauranga candidate Sam Uffindell’s election night headquarters.

Uffindell had not mentioned his political intentions during the apology, the victim said.

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

“I believed him. But seeing this, it made me feel like his apology wasn’t genuine, he was just doing it to get his skeletons out of the closet, so he could have a political career.”

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

He had been in bed in his room 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 had been using unscrewed wooden bed legs from his bedroom.

“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 bedroom and lay on the floor between the beds to hide.”

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

The victim’s older brother, who was in the next bedroom, recalls that the entire third-party bedroom rushed in, causing mass confusion in the dark.

“We thought it was a pillow fight, an end-of-the-year tradition kind of thing,” the brother said. “But it wasn’t like that, these guys were lying around saying ‘he’s been hit, he’s been hit’.”

Eventually, she discovered that the boy who had been attacked was her younger brother. He picked up a cricket bat and went after the criminals in anger, he said. Before he could find them, the housemaster stopped him, took him to his office and calmed him down.

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

Stuff spoke to three other witnesses who were present at the time.

Uffindell ran on a platform that advocated better infrastructure and tougher gang laws.


Uffindell ran on a platform that advocated better infrastructure and tougher gang laws.

Two of the perpetrators – Uffindell and another boy – were subsequently expelled or “asked to leave” the school. Two others were suspended for two weeks early next year.

When contacted by Stuff, Uffindell said he did not recall using the legs of the bed, but said he could not rule it out.

Rather, what he remembered was running into the third party’s bedroom and beating the victim.

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

“I regret it and I was very stupid and I apologize for what happened, and since then I have tried to become 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 time away. He worried about the emotional damage it might have done, he said. He was grateful that the victim had spoken to him.

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

“That wasn’t my motivation at all. I called the guy because I was sorry for what happened and I wanted closure,” he said.

The National Party had been aware of the incident when he joined, he said, and was grateful he had disclosed it to them.

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

Mark Taylor/Things

Sam Uffindell says he told the National Party the incident 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 open by the resignation of former National Party leader Simon Bridges.

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

“We need friends, family and particularly parents to step up and show what’s right,” he said.

The victim said she probably would not have agreed to speak to Stuff about the incident if Uffindell had handled the apology properly.

“If he really cared, he would have at least let me know that he planned to go into politics,” she said. “And he wouldn’t have waited until the last minute to apologize until he had something he wanted to do, if he had apologized and really cared.”

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