The headmaster of Dilworth School says he is appalled by allegations of historical sexual abuse which have led to charges against six people related to the school.

Headmaster Dan Reddiex, who was appointed last year, said the school had zero tolerance for any abuse of any kind.

Reddiex said that "naturally as a father, educator and human being" he found the allegations "appalling" and "deeply saddening".

"I cannot comprehend the trauma or pain those who suffered abuse must have endured," Reddiex said.

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"And for this hurt we are truly sorry. And so I want to be absolutely clear, the Dilworth School I know and lead today has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind.

"The health, safety and wellbeing of our students is our single greatest priority and responsibility.

"We know that a safe environment is instrumental to our students flourishing both personally and academically."

Dilworth School headmaster Dan Reddiex (left) said he was appalled by the allegations against six people related to the school. Photo / Greg Bowker
Dilworth School headmaster Dan Reddiex (left) said he was appalled by the allegations against six people related to the school. Photo / Greg Bowker

To this end the school was constantly reviewing best practice with input from independent advisers and applying learnings from international inquiries, he said.

"These reviews have driven significant change within our school."

Policies had been adopted that focused on preventing abuse of any kind, he said.

Training and education for staff and students reinforced the message that abuse of any form "will not be tolerated".

Safety improvements had also been made to the buildings and movement around the school was monitored, he said.

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They wanted to create a culture where students were encouraged to speak up against abuse, he said.

"Knowing that the adults are listening and that they will act."

He said there was no denying the allegations of historical abuse had "cast a dark shadow" on the school.

"We will take all necessary steps to ensure this chapter in our past is never ever repeated again."

Detective Senior Sergeant Geoff Baber said the Auckland City Criminal Investigation Branch had been investigating since a complaint was initially made a year ago.

A number of serious offences allegedly occurred across a number of decades from the 1970s to the early 2000s, Baber said.

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"At this stage in our investigation we have identified 17 victims," he said.

The six men charged, who are all in their 60s and 70s, currently have name suppression after appearing in court today.

They are next expected to appear in the Auckland District Court in early October.

Male Survivor advocate Ken Clearwater says it's a challenging thing to come forward about.

"People have no idea how hard it is, particularly as a male, to say you've been sexually violated because we've lived in a patriarchal system all our lives where we're supposed to be tough and staunch," he said.

Today's arrests would give other men the permission to tell their stories, he said.

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"It will let others who are victims of that sexual abuse know that they aren't the only ones, because one of the problems we face as survivors is you think it only happened to you, and that's why we don't come forward."

Dilworth School headmaster Dan Reddiex (left) and Chairman of the Dilworth Trust Board Aaron Snodgrass addressed media on Monday after the arrests. Photo / Greg Bowker
Dilworth School headmaster Dan Reddiex (left) and Chairman of the Dilworth Trust Board Aaron Snodgrass addressed media on Monday after the arrests. Photo / Greg Bowker

Dilworth Trust Board Chair Aaron Snodgrass said they deeply regret what had occurred in the past and the detrimental effects on former students who were allegedly abused.

"We are truly sorry."

In 2018, as the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care was being established and the findings of similar international inquiries were made the Dilworth Trust Board took a leadership role in improving its processes around alleged abuse, he said.

Last year, he wrote to all Old Boys and parents apologising for historical abuse, but also outlining what they had been doing to lead the way in providing a safer school environment, he said.

"We established a confidential, free Listening Service for Old Boys if they want to discuss their experiences with an independent clinical psychologist."

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The Board had actively sought to have any suppression of Dilworth's name waived in connection with the court proceedings because they wanted to be able to openly discuss their response with the school community, he said.

The charges:

• A 72-year-old man has been charged in relation to doing an indecent act and three counts of indecent assault.

• A 73-year-old man faces numerous charges relating to sexual violation, indecent assault, sexual exploitation and supplying class A, B and C drugs.

• A 68-year-old man faces a charge of indecent assault and inducing an indecent act.

• A 69-year-old man has been charged with indecent assault.

• A 72-year-old man faces four charges relating to indecent assault.

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• A 78-year-old man has been charged with three counts of indecent assault.

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
• If you have been abused, remember it's not your fault.