• Witness information and schedule: Information about survivors and other witnesses giving evidence at the hearing and a schedule can be found below this media release.
  • COVID-19 hearing protocol: The health and safety of survivors, witnesses and the public are our utmost priority. Members of the public cannot attend the hearing in the current red traffic light setting, under the COVID-19 Protection Framework. The hearing will be livestreamed daily. We encourage the public to watch the livestream from 9 February, which can be found on the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry website.

Survivors abused while in Catholic Church care, many who were disabled children and at-risk young people, will give evidence at an upcoming Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry public hearing.

The six and a half-day hearing begins on Wednesday 9 February in Tāmaki Makaurau.

The hearing will focus on abuse by religious brothers of the Hospitaller Order of St John of God (St John of God) in relation to three Christchurch Catholic institutions – including Marylands School.

The hearing is part of the Royal Commission’s wider investigation into abuse in the care of the Catholic Church.

This is the first comprehensive, independent investigation into abuse that took place in Aotearoa New Zealand under the care of the Catholic Church, through the Hospitaller Order of St John of God.

Survivors of various backgrounds, including Māori and disabled people, will share their experiences at the hearing.

The Catholic Archbishop of Christchurch and the Australia-based Oceania head of the St John of God order will also give evidence.

The Royal Commission is examining the scale and extent of abuse in the care of the church and whether systemic, structural or other factors contributed to abuse occurring, and whether the response by the Catholic Church was adequate.

The public hearing is one element of the investigation. Survivors and other witnesses are also able to provide statements in private interview sessions or through written statements. While the public hearing hears a portion of a witness’s account, the inquiry records and considers their entire evidential statement.




Abuse relating to Catholic institutions in Christchurch

Marylands School was run by the St John of God brothers from 1955 to 1984. It was a residential school for boys with learning disabilities. More than 530 boys, many not Catholic, attended Marylands School during its 29-year history. At least a quarter were placed there by the State. The Royal Commission is working to get a better understanding of how many Māori and Pacific children attended.

St Joseph’s Orphanage was located next door to Marylands School. It was run by a different Catholic religious institution. There was movement of children between the orphanage and Marylands School.

Hebron Trust was a residential home for at-risk youth. It operated from premises throughout Christchurch. The Trust was run by St John of God brother, Bernard McGrath, from 1986-1993.

Some survivors from both the orphanage and Hebron Trust say they were abused by religious members. 

A disturbing aspect is that many of those abused at Marylands School were children with learning disabilities. The hearing will explore why the St John of God order came to New Zealand and how it ended up running a school for disabled children. The hearing will explore risk factors contributing to abuse.

The Royal Commission will use the hearing to examine the role of the State, including the Ministry of Education and the (then) Department of Social Welfare.  The ministry had oversight regarding the education provided and the Department of Social Welfare was responsible for placing and monitoring some of the children at the school.

Related criminal prosecutions

Two St John of God brothers, Rodger Moloney and Bernard McGrath, have been convicted in New Zealand of abusing boys at Marylands School. McGrath was also convicted for offending against young people at the Hebron Trust.

While these criminal cases focused on individual criminal wrongdoing, a lot more is unknown. This includes the nature and extent of other allegations of abuse, and the roles and possible failures of the Catholic Church and the State.

Evidence from Police relating to the criminal processes involving St John of God brothers will also be presented. Barriers to disabled people participating in Police criminal investigations and prosecutions will be explored.

About the Hospitaller Order of St John of God

The Hospitaller Order of St John of God was established over 500 years ago.  The order has a global presence, divided into provinces.  Each province is run by a leader known as a Provincial. The head of the worldwide order is known as the Superior General or Prior General and is based in Rome.

St John of God brothers based in Ireland established a presence for the order in Australia in 1947.  The Australian-based brothers expanded to Aotearoa in 1955. 

About the Inquiry

The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry is investigating the abuse of children, young people and vulnerable adults within State and faith-based institutions in Aotearoa New Zealand between 1950-1999. We can also learn from the experiences of survivors who have been in care after 1999, to make recommendations to help stop abuse happening in the future.

The Royal Commission is due to deliver its final report in March 2024.



The six and a half-day hearing will start on Wednesday 9 February. It will be held at the Royal Commission’s hearing space Tii Tu Tahi in Newmarket, Tāmaki Makaurau. The hearing is not open to members of the public under the current COVID-19 red traffic light setting but it will be livestreamed on the Royal Commission’s website.

MEDIA: Royal Commission Media Guidelines apply for reporting on public hearings. There is limited space for media attendance at the hearing due to COVID-19 restrictions. Media wishing to attend the hearing can register interest through the email address below. Media can report from the daily live stream on the Royal Commission website. For this hearing, you must apply by 5pm Friday 4 February using the form in the Media Guidelines. Please note, this is a shorter timeframe than that stated in the Media Guidelines.

Media enquiries: 027 298 2094;


HEARING SCHEDULE – For planning purposes

All times are approximate. Some details are subject to change.

Wednesday 9 February

10am – 11.30am 

Opening karakia and waiata
Welcome from Chair
 Coral Shaw, Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry
Opening statements 

  • Katherine Anderson, Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission
  • Dr Michelle Mulvihill and Sam Wimsett  
  • Crown Secretariat represented by Rachael Schmidt-McCleave
  • Bishops and Congregational Leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa represented by Sally McKechnie 
  • Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Aotearoa-New Zealand represented by Dr Christopher Longhurst, John O’Malley, Lydia Oosterhoff
  • Ken Clearwater, advocate


2.15pm - 3.30pm  
Mr Steven Long, survivor witness – via audio visual link 
Mr Long was placed at Marylands School by the Department of Social Welfare at age seven. Mr Long experienced sexual, physical and emotional abuse while there. Prior to and following his placement at Marylands School, Mr Long was moved around various care institutions where he also suffered abuse. Mr Long has reported and received redress regarding his experiences at Marylands School and in State care, with the assistance of Cooper Legal.  
3.45pm - 5pm  
Ms DN 
Ms DN will give evidence about her brother, who attended Marylands School from age eight to 16. Ms DN will talk about her late parents' observations of Marylands School and her own memories of what it was like growing up with her brother. Ms DN will also give evidence on how Marylands School has impacted her brother’s life.  


Thursday 10 February 
10am – 11.30am  
Adam Powell, survivor witness – via audio visual link 
Adam Powell was placed at Marylands School from 1978 to 1981. He was sent there by his adoptive whānau for the education programme it offered to children who struggled with learning. Adam suffered sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect by the St John of God brothers while at Marylands School. His evidence discusses the impact this abuse has had on his life.  
11.45am - 1pm 
Mr DG, survivor witness 
Mr DG was transferred from foster care to Marylands School by the Department of Social Welfare’s psychiatric services when he was nine years old. While at Marylands School he was repeatedly sexually abused by Brothers McGrath and Moloney. Mr DG’s evidence discusses how he reported the abuse to a St John of God brother and to a Department of Social Welfare social worker while at Marylands School. Mr DG says the abuse has shaped his life.   

2.15pm - 3.30pm  
Darryl Smith, survivor witness 
Darryl Smith was placed at Marylands School by his parents when he was seven years old, on the advice of the Department of Education. Darryl’s evidence discusses sexual, physical, spiritual abuse and educational neglect.  He also provides insight into the racial abuse suffered by Māori and Pacific children at the school. Darryl has spent much of his adult life in and out of prison, and he has remained a tireless advocate for survivors throughout.  

3.45pm - 4.45pm  
Mr Eddie Marriott, survivor witness 
Mr Marriott is a survivor who started at Marylands School when he was five years old and remained a resident there until he was 15 years old. He shares his experience of being sexually abused by other students and St John of God brothers. He describes the impact of the abuse, including substance abuse, relationship difficulties, and lack of education and life skills. Mr Marriott also outlines his Police complaint and the St John of God order’s redress process.  

4.45pm - 5pm  
Mr AU, survivor witness – pre-recorded
Mr AU was placed in the care of St Joseph’s Orphanage by his mother when he was 11 years old. Mr AU shares his experience of sexual abuse by priests and how this impacted his life.  He will also describe his experience of reporting the abuse to the Police, and his redress process with the Sisters of Nazareth and the St John of God order.   


Friday 11 February 
10am – 11.30am  
James Tasker, survivor witness 
James Tasker was placed at Marylands School after a psychiatric referral. James describes the sexual culture at the school and the sexual abuse he suffered by several St John of God brothers and a pupil. James will also talk about his disclosure of abuse, how the abuse impacted his life and his experience of making a statement to the Police for their criminal investigation. 

11.45am - 1pm  
Mr Hans Freller, survivor witness 
Mr Freller is a Hebron Trust survivor who was a resident there from 1990 to 1992. Mr Freller will share his experience of being sexually abused by Brother McGrath as a teenager and the response he received when he made his first disclosure. He will also describe the lasting impact it has had on his life, and his redress with the St John of God order.   

2.15pm - 3.30pm 
Mr Alan Nixon, survivor witness 
Mr Nixon lived at Marylands School when he was eight to 14 years old, following time in foster care and various other residential homes. He was sexually abused by Brothers McGrath, Donnellan and Moloney and he witnessed the abuse of other students.   
Mr Nixon describes the impact his time in care has had on his life including his criminal offending. He describes how his offending in relation to church buildings resulted in the beginning of his redress process. 
3.45pm - 4.45pm 
Danny Akula, survivor witness 
Danny Akula is a Marylands School and State care survivor. He will give evidence about his experiences of abuse in multiple institutions, including physical and sexual abuse at Marylands School. He describes the impact of the abuse on his life and his redress with the St John of God order.  

4.45pm - 5pm 
Ms AM – pre-recorded audio 
Ms AM was a caregiver at Marylands School from the late 1970s through to 1985. She gives evidence about her experience at Marylands School, including the physical abuse that she witnessed. Ms AM also discusses suspicions she had about the brothers interfering with boys, and the disclosures of sexual abuse made to her by a former Marylands School student.  


Monday 14 February 
9.45am - 10am 
Mr AL – pre-recorded audio 
Mr AL and his brother attended Marylands School from 1955 to 1959. He was among the first group of boys at Marylands School and had been transferred from St Joseph’s Orphanage. Mr AL speaks about the abuse he experienced and saw at St Joseph’s Orphanage and Marylands School. This includes physical and sexual abuse, as well as not receiving a proper education and being abused because of his Māori heritage.  

10am – 12.15pm 
Dr Michelle Mulvihill – via audio visual link 
Dr Michelle Mulvihill is a former nun and a clinical psychologist. She worked for the St John of God brothers from 1998 to 2007, helping the order respond to sexual abuse claims. She will give evidence about the order’s approach to survivor redress. She will also give evidence about systemic and cultural factors that contributed to the significant extent of sexual abuse in the order.

12.20pm - 2.30pm  
Ken Clearwater 
Ken Clearwater is a survivor advocate who works with survivors of sexual abuse. He led the Male Sexual Assault Survivors Trust for many years and has supported many Marylands School survivors. Ken will give evidence, while protecting survivors’ identities, about the experience of some of the Marylands School survivors he worked with. He will also share his own observations.   

2.35pm - 4.45pm  
Sonja Cooper and Sam Benton  
Cooper Legal has acted for at least 30 survivors from Marylands School, St Joseph’s Orphanage and Hebron Trust. Sonja Cooper and Sam Benton will give evidence about the abuse their clients experienced and their clients’ experiences seeking redress with the Police, the Ministry of Social Development and the St John of God order.   

Tuesday 15 February 

9.45am - 10am  
Mr AQ – pre-recorded audio 
Mr AQ was in State care from a young age and had numerous placements, including attending Marylands School from 1963 to 1966. He gives evidence of the sexual abuse he suffered by Brother Thaddeus and the impact this abuse has had on his life and relationships. Mr AQ will also describe the barriers he faced to disclosing the abuse, and his experience with the St John of God order’s redress process.  

10am – 4.45pm  
Brother Timothy Graham – via audio visual link 
Brother Timothy Graham has been the Provincial of the Oceania Province of the St John of God Brothers since 2007. He is responsible for responding to reports of abuse and the order’s redress processes. He will give evidence about the order, its involvement in running Marylands School and the order’s response to abuse.  

4.45pm - 5pm 
Trevor McDonald, survivor witness – pre-recorded video 
Trevor McDonald was placed at St Joseph’s Orphanage at an early age and was later moved to Marylands School. Trevor gives evidence about educational neglect and being physically and sexually abused by Brothers Sebastian and Thaddeus. He participated in the St John of God order’s redress process. Trevor describes being significantly impacted by the abuse to this day.  


Wednesday 16 February 

9.45am - 10am  
Mr DA, survivors witness – pre-recorded audio 
Mr DA gives evidence of being placed at St Joseph's Orphanage at a young age and then moved to Marylands School in 1955 at the age of 11. He describes being groomed and sexually abused at Marylands by Brother Thaddeus. Mr DA shares his experiences at other State care institutions including several psychiatric hospitals. He gives evidence about how these experiences have had an extreme impact on his life.  

10am – 11.30am  
Archbishop Paul Martin  
Archbishop Paul Martin gives evidence on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand. Between March 2018 and January 2021, he was the Bishop of Christchurch. He is currently the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Christchurch, effectively holding the same rights and responsibilities as a bishop for that diocese until the appointment of a new bishop.
11.45am - 2.30pm  
Detective Superintendent Peter Read  
Detective Superintendent Peter Read gives evidence on behalf of the Police. He is the current Detective Superintendent for Wellington and the South Island. His evidence discusses the Operation Authority investigation into Marylands School, which began in 2002. At the time he was a Detective Inspector in Christchurch and oversaw child sexual violence investigations. He appointed the investigation team and oversaw the investigation. 
2.30pm - 4.45pm  

Linda Hrstich-Meyer

Linda is the General Manager (previous Director) of Historic Claims at the Ministry of Social Development. Her evidence will be about the assessment and resolution of claims about abuse and neglect of children and young people while in the care of the Ministry and its predecessor.

Peter Galvin
Peter Galvin is the General Manager of Partnering for Outcomes at Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children. His role is focused on the relationships Oranga Tamariki has with social service providers, including certain providers of residential care services. Peter Galvin’s evidence discusses the nature of the State regulatory framework for children and young people who were in private institutions, such as Marylands School. It also discusses disclosures of abuse made to social workers by boys at Marylands School, and the current approach to State oversight of third-party providers of residential care.
4.45pm - 5pm  
Mr DL, survivor witness – pre-recorded audio 
Mr DL attended Marylands School from age 11. Mr DL will speak of the physical and sexual abuse he was subjected to by Brothers McGrath and Moloney at Marylands School. Mr DL will give evidence about his redress experience and how the abuse has had a long-lasting impact on him. 

Thursday 17 February 
10am – 10.05am
Mr CB, survivor witness – pre-recorded audio 
Mr CB attended Marylands School in the 1960s, from the age 12 to 17. His family sent him to Marylands for a better education. Mr CB describes the lack of education and how he was instead put to work in the Marylands School kitchen. His evidence discusses the ongoing effects of the abuse and neglect on his life, including his inability to read.  
10.05am - 10.15am  
Mr CZ, survivor witness – pre-recorded audio 
Mr CZ was referred to Marylands School by a family doctor and was resident at the school from 1973 to 1974. Mr CZ gives evidence about educational neglect, and that he was physically and sexually abused by several brothers, including Brother McGrath. Mr CZ received redress through the St John of God order’s redress process but did not have a positive experience. Mr CZ also reflects on the barriers for disclosure of abuse. 

10.15am – 10.20am 
Mr Wayne Gowland, survivor witness – pre-recorded audio 
Mr Gowland identifies as Māori but describes how being moved around led to a disconnection from his Māori culture and heritage. Mr Gowland shares his experience of being placed in various State care institutions followed by his placement at Marylands School in the late 1970s, where he was physically and sexually abused. Mr Gowland also describes his experience with the St John of God order’s redress process. 

10.20am – 11am

Documentary clip

11.45am – 1pm 
Closing statements 

  • Crown Secretariat represented by Rachael Schmidt-McCleave
  • Bishops and Congregational Leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa represented by Sally McKechnie
  • Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Aotearoa-New Zealand
  • Dr Michelle Mulvihill and Sam Wimsett  

Closing by Chair Coral Shaw