A former school student who was sodomised by an ex-teacher says she held on to what felt like a "dirty little" secret for decades before having the strength to tell police.

Former Mount Maunganui College teacher Kairau Ngahau, 76, was sentenced in Tauranga District Court on Wednesday to five years nine months in prison for historic sexual abuses against three victims.

The charges included a representative charge of sodomy, seven of unlawful sexual connection and a further charge of indecent assault on a male aged between 12 to 16 years.

Two victims used to be students at the school. The third was not but came forward after charges relating to the other victims were made public.

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The first victim, who attended Mount Maunganui College in the 1970s, wanted to speak out to help enlighten educators how vital it was to stay vigilant when it came to staff and student exchanges.

Vindicated: The victim of sexual abuse says she feels vindicated after the offender was jailed for five years in Tauranga District Court on Wednesday. File/Photo.
Vindicated: The victim of sexual abuse says she feels vindicated after the offender was jailed for five years in Tauranga District Court on Wednesday. File/Photo.

"Sexual predators like Ngahau are everywhere. They could be your aunt, your uncle, your teacher, or even your parents," she said.

"I think he preyed on me because I was never a 'boy-boy' and ... I was particularly vulnerable," she told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend.

The victim, who has since had gender reassignment surgery, said she finally gained the strength to tell police 22 months ago.

"I have been dealing with this for a very long time. It has been in my mind for ... years but I kept it hidden from my family, particularly my parents...

"I didn't want them to feel any shame or be upset because I hid what always felt like a dirty little secret from them and my siblings for so long," she said.

''What was really frightening and scary for me was that it had always been the back of my mind there might be other children out there who had also been abused by Ngahau. Sadly my fear proved right."

"I'm not a vindictive person so I understand the court had to give Ngahau discounts for his guilty pleas, his age and health, but it was very important to see him brought to justice for what he did to me.''

The victim said she chose not to come to court to read her impact statement to Ngahau and left that up to the Crown prosecutor.

"It would have been like looking at the face of a devil -- and I didn't have the strength to do that," she said.

The impact of Ngahau's abuse was ongoing.

"It never goes away... The thought of having to retell my story to a bunch of strangers in front of Ngahau made me feel extremely anxious. I'm so relieved he pleaded guilty,'' she said.

''My fear was that other people might think I made it all up. It's good to be vindicated as I was telling the truth and it wasn't a fairytale."

The victim said she wanted to pay tribute to police and the Crown prosecutor, particularly Detective Aaron Duggan, who had been "very understanding and empathetic".

She said it was challenging to open up about her experiences but hoped sharing her story would encourage other sexual abuse victims to come forward.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
Samaritans 0800 726 666
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.