By Chris Morris

A paedophile priest's picture has been removed from the wall at Dunedin's Kavanagh College after a group of old boys complained.

But the group's call for the Catholic college to consider a name change, to end another association with the priest's dark past, has been rejected.

The situation emerged after Dr Murray Heasley and 12 other old boys of the college and its predecessor, St Paul's High School, wrote to college principal Tracey O'Brien to raise concerns.


Heasley said he was horrified to discover a picture of former priest and convicted sex offender Magnus Murray on display at the college when he visited earlier this year.

Murray was jailed for five years in 2003, after admitting 10 charges of sexual offending against four young boys between 1958 and 1972.

The offending, described as "despicable sexual crimes against innocent and vulnerable children", occurred in church settings and during church-related activities in Dunedin.

At the time, Murray was also teaching at St Paul's High School, before it became Kavanagh College in 1989.

Heasley, who was head prefect at the high school in 1969, had returned to the college on a "nostalgia trip" in February.

He hoped to view the high school's old honours board, which featured his name, but found it and other memorabilia missing.

Instead, he found an image of Murray, seated alongside other staff in a group photo taken in 1968, still on display.

Heasley said he and other old boys were "incensed" by the discovery, and together wrote an open letter to the college.


Principal O'Brien said the old boys' concerns were being taken "seriously".

"The honours board has gone missing and there's a discredited member of the college still up in a photo."

He was trying to locate the missing memorabilia, but the picture of Murray had already been removed, he said.

It was possible it could be modified, with Murray's image removed, and then returned to the wall.

Heasley also suggested the college's name should be reconsidered.

The name came from Bishop John Kavanagh, who from 1949 to 1985 was Dunedin's fourth Catholic Bishop.

Heasley said the name was tainted because of the bishop's handling of complaints about Murray's behaviour.

Catholic Education Office Dunedin diocese director Tony Hanning rejected the idea and the allegations against Kavanagh.

"Sometimes emotion becomes more important than facts and evidence, and that's most unfortunate.

"That would be a real slur on his character and quite uncalled for."