Former Waimea student Brian Kim needed emergency surgery after being shot in a paintball accident on Sunday.
Mr Kim was accidentally shot in the eye with a paintball pellet by a teacher as he was helping supervise a game involving Waimea College international students at Happy Valley Adventures in Cable Bay.
A hospital spokesman said Mr Kim was in a stable condition this morning.
Waimea College principal Larry Ching said reports from people close to Mr Kim said he was bravely awaiting the results of the surgery, and it was still unknown if he would regain partial, full, or any sight in the injured eye.
“Most of the time he is extremely positive,” Mr Ching said.
Mr Kim’s parents had arrived in Nelson from South Korea and Mr Ching was waiting to speak with them, after giving them time to catch up with their son.
He said there were language barriers, and Mr Kim was having to relay information from specialists to his parents in Korean.
Mr Ching said the staff member from the international department whose paintball pellet hit Mr Kim was “absolutely distraught” and was taking the week off school to be around supportive friends and family.
Mr Ching said he was talking to her on a daily basis, and had made available any counselling or assistance she needed to help her come to terms with what all parties agreed was a “freak accident“. Her main concern at this stage was Mr Kim’s welfare, and recovery.
He said Mr Kim, who had a close relationship with the tutor during his time at Waimea, had “made it really clear that it was an accident”.
Mr Kim was one of three adult supervisors at the annual Waimea College international department paintball match on Sunday involving about 20 foreign students.
Mr Ching said the college staff member had reacted to Mr Kim shooting her, after he popped out from behind a structure on the paintball field.
She swung around in “reflex”, and fired, hitting him in the face with a paintball.
At some stage Mr Kim had removed his protective face mask, issued at the start of the game, and the paintball struck him in the eye.
Mr Ching had coached Mr Kim’s junior Waimea College basketball team, not long after he arrived in New Zealand.
“He used to get on extremely well with staff and students, and he really loved being in New Zealand.
“From the time he first arrived here, he went from being quite a withdrawn student, to an academically focused [student] and skilled sportsman.”
By the time he reached the senior school, Mr Kim was a member of the Waimea College A basketball team, and coached a team of international students.
He had recently started playing the equivalent of men’s A-grade basketball in Christchurch, Mr Ching said.
He thought it would be extremely unlikely that any charges would be laid over the incident.