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We honour and uphold the dignity of survivors who have so bravely shared their stories here. We acknowledge that some content contains explicit descriptions of tūkino – abuse, harm and trauma – and may evoke strong negative, emotional responses for readers. Although this response may be unpleasant and difficult to tolerate, it is also appropriate to feel upset. However, if you or someone in your close circle needs support, please contact your GP or healthcare provider.

Stolen Lives, Marked Souls – Inquiry into abuse and neglect at Marylands School and Hebron Trust report release

Today, the Royal Commission’s report Stolen Lives, Marked Souls is being released by the Government. It is now available to read on our website.

Our inquiries found cries for help from survivors of Marylands School and Hebron Trust were ignored for decades.

Both facilities were run by the Order of the Brothers of St John of God.

The report found the Catholic Church, the Order and State have never been found accountable for their role or for failing to address the harm.

Inquiry Chair Coral Shaw said, “Marylands School was a place of depravity, sexual, physical and spiritual violence. At Hebron Trust, rangatahi were sexually and physically abused by one of the most prolific serial rapists of the Order.

“We are aware of no other circumstances or institution where the sexual abuse has been so extreme or has involved such a high proportion of perpetrators over the same extended period of time as that at Marylands School.” 

Parents sent their children to be cared for by the brothers, often on advice of the State, believing it was the best place for them. Instead, survivors experienced extreme abuse and neglect with lifelong consequences.

“Devastatingly, many grew up to suffer painful, life-long physical injuries and illnesses caused by the abuse,” said Coral Shaw. “Many survivors contemplated or even attempted suicide. Tragically, some have lost their lives this way.

“When children reported abuse and neglect, they were not believed. Not believed by social workers, police, the brothers or the Catholic Church.”

Of the 537 boys who attended Marylands School, more than one in five (118) reported abuse while in the school's care. However, the true number is likely much higher as there are significant barriers to disclosure and reporting of abuse by disabled survivors. 

Of the 37 brothers from the Order who ministered in the Christchurch community and Marylands School, 21 had allegations of some form of abuse made against them. Brother Bernard McGrath alone has been convicted of more than 100 offences both here and in Australia. He will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

Although the State registered and financially supported Marylands as a special school it failed to protect the boys and put a stop to the atrocities due to a lack of oversight and monitoring of the brothers operating the school. Evidence shows the Crown may well have breached te Tiriti and human rights obligations.

“Survivors have suffered for years and been robbed of their potential because those who were meant to care for them shamefully enabled the abuse and neglect, ignored it or covered it up.” 

“Without accountability, there can be no confidence that such events will not be able to occur again,” said Coral Shaw.
We know that the release of the St John of God report and its findings may be distressing for you. Remember, we are here for you. If you need support, contact us during weekday hours at 0800 222 727, free text 8155 or email us at contact@abuseincare.org.nz.

How to get in touch with us

Call us in New Zealand on 0800 222 727 between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday, or text 8185.

Call us from Australia on free phone 1800 875 745.

Write to us at PO Box 10071Wellington 6140.

Visit our website www.abuseincare.org.nz.

Help and support services

  • Alcohol and Drug Helpline 0800 787 797 or online chat for people dealing with an alcohol or other drug problem; 10 am to 10 pm
  • Anxiety phone line 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY)
  • Depression Helpline 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 (to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions)
  • Family Services 211 Helpline 0800 211 211 for help finding (and direct transfer to) community based health and social support services in your area.
  • HELP 0800 623 1700 preventing sexual abuse and supporting survivors 24/7.
  • Lifeline 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
  • Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Aotearoa New Zealand Support services for male survivors of sexual abuse. Refer to website for the support organisation nearest to you.
  • Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
  • OUTline NZ 0800 688 5463 (OUTLINE) provides confidential telephone support for sexuality or gender identity issues; 9 am to 9 pm weekdays, and 6 pm to 8 pm weekends)
  • Rape Crisis 0800 883 300 (for support after rape or sexual assault)
  • Safe to talk (Available 24/7) 0800 044 334, free txt 4334, email support@safetotalk.nz, live webchat on www.safetotalk.nz. Free and confidential information and support from trained counsellors for people affected by sexual harm in any way.
  • Samaritans 0800 726 666.
  • Shine 0508 744 633, free to call from any phone in NZ, and taking calls 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Call for confidential support, information, advice and referrals.
  • Skylight, 0800 299 100 for trauma, loss and grief; 9am–5pm weekdays.
  • SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests Providing peer support for women and men wounded by religious and institutional authorities
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO).
  • Supporting Families in Mental Illness For families and whānau supporting a loved one who has a mental illness. Auckland 0800 732 825. 
  • Victim Support This free service provides emotional and practical support, information, financial assistance, referral to other support services and advocacy for the rights of victims.
  • Wellington HELP 0800 FOR HELP supports anyone and everyone who has been impacted by sexual violence. Call anytime.
  • Youthline 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat