Warning: Distressing content
A Dilworth Class Action representative is calling for the chairman of school's trust board to resign after it was revealed abuse complaints by former students were ignored by senior leadership.
Newshub obtained detailed summaries of allegations from victims and searched court records showing a former Dilworth principal went to great lengths to keep the school's name a secret.
Former student Mat Stapleton said he was raped by a school priest at the age of 9.
"I didn't understand what was happening. I had never been subjected to anything like that before and it wasn't part of my world. I mean, should sexual abuse be something that a kid knows about," he told Newshub.
"The extent of my injuries were that I was in a lot of pain, so I asked to see the doctor."
While he did not complain, many former students did. Summaries written by complainants involved in a class action show 22 former pupils did inform the school of the alleged abuse.
One said "I was told I was a liar and stupid boy for causing trouble" and one was threatened with the cane "if I spoke of it again".
Another was "called a liar, caned and threatened with expulsion".
Dilworth Class Action representative and sexual abuse survivor Neil Harding is calling for Aaron Snodgrass, the chairman of Dilworth Trust Board, and fellow trustee Brian Maltby, to resign.
"Mr Snodgrass has been on the Board since 2013 and Mr Maltby has been a trustee for over thirty years, joining in 1990," Harding said.
Harding claimed the pair had both been part of a board which he believed had "covered up horrendous sexual abuse against hundreds of vulnerable, young boys".
"The cover-up involved the deliberate silencing of boys for over 30 years who complained that they were being sexually abused, allowing the otherwise avoidable abuse of many, many more boys," Harding alleged.
The Dilworth Class Action represents over 110 survivors, but Harding believes that number is just the tip of the iceberg.
The allegations against former staff and students, which have been made by more than 100 former pupils, go as far back as the 1960s and well into the early 2000s.
Detective Senior Sergeant Geoff Baber said allegations have also been made against an additional nine men who had died before the investigation began.
That brings the number of people who are accused of sexual abuse to at least 30. Eleven former staff members - including tutors, house and scoutmasters and a priest - have been charged as part of the inquiry.
Court documents seen by Newshub showed that in 2014, in a case of a tutor sodomising a student, then-Principal Donald MacLean wrote to the judge saying he was concerned about the school's reputation.
"I am concerned the reputation of Dilworth will be detrimentally impacted upon by publication.
"I consider that the education of pupils will be compromised.
"Publication ... may discourage future parents and families from applying for enrolment at Dilworth."
Harding said they have asked the trust board a number of times to consult with survivors, but they fail to respond to requests.
He claimed the trust board was treating sexual abuse like a game and that he believed it was choosing to cover up what happened.
"Their actions are disrespectful, re-traumatising and harmful to the sexual abuse survivors and their families. It shows the trust board's incompetence, self-interest, and complete lack of compassion."
Harding believed the Dilworth Trust Board choose to protect its own reputation ahead of the safety of its students.
Steven Gray, a former student, believes the school has "gone out of their way to stop anything from coming out from boys talking to going to the police" since the 70s.
"[They made those choices because of] money. For me, it's always come back to money, that's the thing. The value has just gone up and up over the years."
When he was 13-years-old, Gray said he was threatened after he asked why two teachers had suddenly left the school.
"We were called into the headmaster's office and threatened with slander for daring to bring this up."
Dilworth would not comment on whether it believed abuse was covered up.
"Our Old Boy survivors and their families have had to endure pain and continued impacts as a result, and we are deeply sorry for this."
A Dilworth School spokesperson said as planned, deputy board chair Brian Maltby is retiring at the end of this year but Snodgrass wasn't going anywhere.
"Dilworth Trust Board Chairman Aaron Snodgrass has no plans to resign and has the full support of the Board.
"As a newly-appointed Board Chair, it was Mr Snodgrass who initiated an independent review of the School's records into historical sexual abuse in 2018 by leading experts.
"In September 2019, Mr Snodgrass made a public acknowledgement of and apology for the historical abuse that occurred at School.
"The recommendations of the experts have been implemented, including the launch of an independent Listening Service, updates to the School's current safety and wellbeing policies, co-operation with the police on Operation Beverly and the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care."
The spokesperson said he had since initiated the development of a comprehensive Redress Programme for Old Boy survivors, as well as the launch of an independent inquiry encompassing the evolution of the School's policies and processes related to student safety, and its response to complaints of sexual abuse.
"Throughout Mr Snodgrass has made himself available to talk to any old boy about these matters and continues to do so. Mr Snodgrass, his fellow Board Trustees and the School have zero tolerance to abuse of any kind at Dilworth School."
Where to get help
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
• If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline Safe to Talk on 0800 044 334 or text 4334. (available 24/7)
• Male Survivors Aotearoa offers a range of confidential support at centres across New Zealand - find your closest one here.
• Mosaic - Tiaki Tangata: 0800 94 22 94 (available 11am-8pm)
• Alternatively contact your local police station - click here for a list.
If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault.