Inquiry into the Order of the Brothers of St John of God at Marylands School and Hebron Trust

As part of the investigation into abuse in the care of the Catholic Church the Royal Commission is running a case study inquiry into abuse in the care of the Hospitaller Order of the Brothers of Saint John of God.

The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry has delivered its report, Stolen Lives, Marked Souls, to the Governor-General, Her Excellency Rt Hon Dame Cindy Kiro and it is now public, after being tabled in parliament.

Stolen Lives, Marked Souls highlight abuse and neglect experienced at institutions in Christchurch, including Marylands School and the Hebron Trust.

For information on the Case Study and the Hearing held in Feb 2022 see below. There are also links below to download the Inquiry's report or view it online at the Inquiry's website.

Bishop Michael Gielen of the Diocese of Christchurch, has written a pastoral letter in relation to the Case Study. It is published on the Diocese of Christchurch's website - view it here.

Commenting on the report on behalf of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Paul Martin SM says:

“The report highlights the horrific abuse and suffering that took place, and the failure of individuals to ensure safety and manage redress adequately. Confronting these realities is a significant and necessary step as we all continue to transform the way we manage redress and ensure the safety of everyone in a Church environment.


“The abuse described should never have happened. Nor should any abuse happen. I want to restate categorically that the bishops of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand have zero tolerance for abuse. No form of abuse, misconduct or inappropriate behaviour is acceptable in the Church community. The Church must continue to confront the difficult truths of the past, including the inexcusable abuse and suffering described in the case study report.” 


Download a PDF of the Stolen Lives, Marked Souls report

View the online version of the Stolen Lives, Marked Souls report

Read the NZCBC's statement on realease of the report

Case Study

As part of the investigation into abuse in the care of the Catholic Church the Inquiry is running a case study on abuse by the Hospitaller Order of the Brothers of Saint John of God

The Case study focusses on events that occurred at Marylands School and the Hebron Trust in Christchurch. Both institutions were run by the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God, a Catholic religious institute (Order).

Marylands was a residential school from 1955-1984, primarily for boys with learning disabilities. The Hebron Trust was a residential programme in Christchurch from 1986 to 1993 for youth in need of safety, shelter and support, including ‘street kids’.

The Inquiry also heard accounts from survivors who experienced abuse at other institutions and locations. 

The scope of the Order of St John of God Case Study can be read here. 

More information on the Case Study

Who are the St John of God Brothers?

The Hospitaller Order of the Brothers of St. John of God is a religious order within the Catholic Church. Members of the Order are religious brothers, but some members are also ordained priests. The Brothers of St John of God ran medical centres, hospitals, and residential schools for intellectually and physically disabled children and at-risk young people. In Aotearoa New Zealand, between 1955- 2007, the order owned and operated a small number of institutions. However the Order do not operate any in New Zealand, anymore. The regional leadership for the Brothers in this part of the world is based in Sydney.

What was Marylands school?

Marylands was a residential school for boys, many with intellectual disability. It originally opened in Middleton, Christchurch in the early 1950s. In 1955 the Brothers of St John of God were asked to run it. Marylands School moved to Halswell in the late 1960s and was handed over to the government to run in 1984 under a different name.

What was the Hebron Trust?

An organisation in Christchurch for at-risk youth. Operated between 1986 and 1992 by Bernard McGrath, one of the Brothers of St John of God.

Why has the Royal Commission focussed its Catholic case study on the Brothers of St John of God?

The period of time and events relating to Marylands and the early days of the Hebron Trust have been the subject of many court cases and resulted in much media coverage during the 1990s and 2000s.

This case study also looks at the response of the local Bishop (in this case the bishops of Christchurch) and the Government (who had responsibility for education and care of state wards etc). The relationship between the institutions and these entities will be examined.

The evidence provided to the Inquiry may also inform the Commission’s investigation and whether there are any systemic, structural, or other factors in the wider Church which contributed to abuse occurring and inadequacy of response by the Catholic Church.

Public Hearing 

This Public Hearing was held on 9 - 17 February 2022 in Auckland.

You can visit the Royal Commission's page on Public Hearings for general information about their hearings and visit their dedicated page for the Marylands Hearing.

 A number of updates from the hearings are archived below: 


Show Hearing Updates

Witness Statements

Some of the evidence shared in the Hearing will not be available on the Commission's livestream immediately due to the various privacy rules the Commission has in place.  Overnight, the Commission will upload edited versions so you can go back and watch those.

Many of the witnesses will be giving evidence by audio visual link. Many survivors will, understandably, be giving evidence anonymously and their names will be published as pseudonym such as “Mr HY”. The written statement of each witness in time transcripts and video of their testimony is available (when made live) via the Commission's site by clicking on the witness' name below.

On Wednesday February 9 the Commission heard from:

Mr Donald Ku, survivor witness

 Mr Steven Long, survivor witness

 Ms DN, Family member of survivor

Opening addresses

In addition to witnesses a number of parties gave opening statements. These can be viewed on the Commission's site

The opening address on behalf of the bishops and congregational leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand was given today by Sally McKechnie of Simpson Grierson. View by downloading the PDF version.


On Thursday February 10, the Commission heard evidence from:

Mr Adam Powell, survivor witness

Mr AU, survivor witness – pre-recorded

Mr DG, survivor witness

Mr Darryl Smith, survivor witness

Mr Eddie Marriott, survivor witness 

Friday February 11, the following witnesses gave evidence:

Mr James Tasker, survivor witness

Mr Hanz Freller, survivor witness

Mr Alan Nixon, survivor witness

Mr Danny Akula, survivor witness

Ms AM – pre-recorded audio, former Marylands staff member

On Monday February 14, the schedule included:

Mr AL, survivor witness - pre-recorded

Dr Michelle Mulvihill, former adviser to the brothers

Mr Ken Clearwater, survivor advocate 

Ms Sonja Cooper and Mr Sam Benton , lawyers 

Mr Daniel Tindall, survivor witness – pre-recorded 

On Tuesday February 15, witnesses appearing were:

Mr AQ, survivor witness – pre-recorded

Brother Timothy Graham, provincial of the SJOG brothers

Trevor McDonald, survivor witness – pre-recorded

Wednesday February 16 included evidence from:

Mr DA, survivor witness – pre-recorded audio

Archbishop Paul Martin, Apostolic Administrator Diocese of Christchurch  

Detective Superintendent Peter Read, NZ Police

Peter Galvin, Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children

Mr DL, survivor witness – pre-recorded audio

On the last day of the Hearing, Thursday February 17, included:

Mr CB, survivor witness – pre-recorded audio

Mr CZ, survivor witness – pre-recorded audio

Mr Wayne Gowland, survivor witness – pre-recorded audio

Presentation of a documentary

Closing statements

Crown Secretariat represented by Ms Rachael Schmidt-McCleave

Bishops and Congregational Leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa represented by Ms Sally McKechnie

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Aotearoa-New Zealand represented by Dr Christopher Longhurst

The Network of Survivors of Abuse in Faith-based Institutions and their Supporters represented by Dr Murray Heasley and Ms Liz Tonks

Dr Michelle Mulvihill

Closing by Chair Coral Shaw

Read the Opening Statement of Church leaders for the Hearing

View the hearing information on the Royal Commissions website

Read the Closing Submissions of Church leaders for the Hearing

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