Boy wins court injunction

Thursday April 30, 2020 Written by Published in Education
Cyrus Taniela, left, and his big sister Jaylia-Anna. 20042927 Cyrus Taniela, left, and his big sister Jaylia-Anna. 20042927

A court injunction has been slapped on an Australian school, stopping the school expelling a five-year-old Cook Islands boy because of the length of his hair.

 

The interim order enables Cyrus Taniela to continue to attend Australian Christian College at Moreton until his human rights case is heard in June.

Cook Islands News revealed in February that Australian Christian College had order Taniela’s parents to cut his hair, despite being told it was cultural practice to grow his hair until his traditional haircutting ceremony.

The story caused an outcry around the world – but the school refused to back down.

Mother Wendy Taniela said Cyrus haircutting ceremony would not be until his 7th birthday, but in the meantime she offered to tie back his hair in a tidy bun.

Cyrus’ father Jason Taniela is from Mangaia, and his mum’s family is from Samoa with Aitutaki connections.

For them, the first haircutting is a boy’s rite of passage, and they were planning to bring family from New Zealand, Australia, Niue and Cook Islands to be part of the ceremony.

Cyrus’s older sister also attends the school, and is allowed to wear her hair long – but the rule is different for boys. Cyrus’ parents only discovered that three days after he started in new entrants’ class.

The Cook Islands Council of Queensland took up the family’s case, and hired human rights lawyers who won the court injunction this week.

Cook Islands Council president Archie Atiau the matter went to mediation, but they were unable to reach a resolution.

So this week, the matter was heard at Queensland Civil and Administration Court via teleconference because of the Covid-19 social distancing restrictions.

Atiau said the teleconference was to set a hearing date and for their team to extend an interim order to prevent the school from removing Cyrus.

The June date was chosen as it would be a month before the second semester begins in July, this would allow time for the Taniela family to find Cyrus and his sister another school, if they lose the case.

But Atiau said the family had an amazing legal team around them and they were confident of a successful outcome.

Atiau thanked friends and family in the Cook Islands and abroad for their continued support. “We ask that you continue to keep the family in your prayers.”

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