New Zealand Royal Commission
A New Zealand royal commission into abuse in care has heard horrific evidence about a member of a Catholic order who was transferred from his homeland to a boys’ home near Newcastle.
Warning: This story contains graphic descriptions of abuse that readers may find distressing.
- St John of God was established in New Zealand in 1955 after starting in Australia eight years earlier
- Survivors say Brother Bernard McGrath used fear to force them to remain silent during his time in Christchurch
- A representative for the church said McGrath’s crimes and the way they were handled internally were “deeply shameful”
The commission comes four years after Australian victims of the St John of God order called on New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden to set up a special inquiry to investigate brothers there.
An Australian royal commission into child abuse heard 40 per cent of St John of God brothers were abusers, the most of any order.
On Wednesday, the inquiry heard the percentage of brothers who abused children in New Zealand was closer to 60 per cent, but could be more.
“The evidence you are about to hear can only be described as chilling,” Counsel Assisting Katherine Anderson said.
“That is in relation to what happened to these individuals, but also in relation to the lifelong impacts they carry with them.
“Commissioners, I say to you that there is much more about this dark chapter of New Zealand’s history that is to be known than that that was revealed through criminal justice processes.”