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Tauranga Boys’ College historical sexual abuse: Mother’s letter to PM David Lange in Pinky Green case revealed

Glenn Marshall sought a public apology from Tauranga Boys’ College over historical predatory sexual behaviour toward him by a school teacher. Photo...

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Glenn Marshall sought a public apology from Tauranga Boys’ College over historical predatory sexual behaviour toward him by a school teacher. Photo / Warren Buckland

A mother’s anguish over the apparent inaction of a prestigious all-boys school to deal with student allegations about a predatory teacher is laid bare in a letter sent to a former prime minister.

The letter was written to David Lange, who was also Minister of Education, in May 1988 and has been released this week by the Ministry of Education under the Official Information Act.

It comes after the former Tauranga Boys’ College board chairman said parents of the affected students were “unanimous” in their support for the school’s decision to let English teacher Pinky Green resign on the grounds of ill health.

The mother, whose name is redacted from the letter, said she had requested the school seek the opinion of a clinical psychologist who specialised in sexual abuse, but it did not.

The letter has come to light after Tauranga Boys’ College apologised in March for historical sexual harassment.

The apology was prompted by a complaint from former student Glenn Marshall, who was propositioned by Green in 1988. Green died earlier this year.

Marshall, who said Green spanked him and wanted the then 16-year-old to tie him naked to a chair and beat him with a cane, alleged the school covered up Green’s behaviour by failing to out the teacher and instead letting him resign with his reputation and pension intact.

Board chairman at the time Bill Holland told Open Justice earlier this year he and then principal Graham Young did everything in their power to address the allegations and denied it was “swept under the carpet”.

Holland said out of concern for the four students involved, who would be cross-examined in court and potentially shamed by their peers, they met with the parents of the students and it was agreed to negotiate the teacher’s early retirement.

Former Tauranga Boys' College English teacher Pinky Green died earlier this year. Photo / NZME
Former Tauranga Boys’ College English teacher Pinky Green died earlier this year. Photo / NZME

But the letter from the mother of one of the teenagers propositioned by Green outlined concerns about the way the allegations were being handled and how long it was taking to resolve.

She said her son had lived with the “traumatic event” for many months and it was “still hanging over his head”.

“We have continually been told that this is not our problem, and just to forget it. My son certainly won’t, as the other boys involved won’t, and as other past pupils who have experienced this man’s sadistic and masochistic tendencies, haven’t.

“The horror stories that are coming forward at the moment from other victims over the years, are sickening, and only serve to underline the fact that this man should have been out of the teaching profession years ago.”

She said the board of governors, as it was known then, only provided updates on the situation at her request.

“By the board’s silence we have been asked to have faith in people we do not know over a matter concerning our children, in a very sensitive area.

“We have been asked to speak to no one and after this length of time I am left feeling most frustrated.”

Tauranga Boys' College apologised in March for historical sexual harassment of students by English teacher Pinky Green. Photo / Andrew Warner
Tauranga Boys’ College apologised in March for historical sexual harassment of students by English teacher Pinky Green. Photo / Andrew Warner

The mother gave a timeline of events beginning on March 4, 1988 when she was made aware of the allegations but asked not to make a formal complaint, to allow time to gather more evidence.

“Secrecy was of the utmost importance so the offender did not become aware of what was happening and have time to prepare a defence.”

Ten days later detailed evidence was taken from two boys, she said, both of whom were still in the teacher’s English class, “facing him each day, knowing what they had set in motion”.

She confirmed police were consulted but because Green had not “touched” the boys a conviction was unlikely, and the Education Department was notified.

“The nebulous ‘grey’ area where because these two boys were not touched and therefore there is not enough evidence is absolutely ludicrous,” she wrote.

On March 19, Green was suspended and given 21 days to reply followed by board meetings on April 11 and 18 at which no decisions were made.

As of May 2, there was still no action, she said.

“If you read the testimonies of the boys there can be little doubt as to the intent of Mr Green.

“There are three other boys who have not yet been questioned and the professional opinion of a clinical psychologist who specialises in the area of sexual abuse has not been sought as I requested.”

The mother worried that even if Green, then in his early 60s, was unable to teach again, his life outside school could not be monitored to protect other young people, unless the truth was known.

She said Green’s behaviour dated back many years and it was a sad indictment that colleagues who were aware felt unable to report him.

“… consequently it is quite horrifying to think of how many boys have been affected by just this one man.”

The mother said she was very disillusioned with the process.

“… time and again I have come up against biases, closed ranks and stereotyped expectations.”

Lange responded on May 30, 1988, saying: “I have made inquiries on your behalf and have been assured by officers of the Department of Education that the Tauranga Boys’ College board of governors has followed all the required procedures in a proper manner and has done everything in its power to ensure that the interests of the pupils have been served.”

Holland told Open Justice he was unaware of the letter but was adamant the support from parents to let Green retire without a disciplinary process, for the sake of the boys, was unanimous.

“She may have felt under pressure because of the other parents, but we achieved the result [ousting Green from teaching] apart from the confidentiality.”

Tauranga Boys’ College board chairwoman Nikki Iuli said the school was not aware of the letter but was co-operating with an Ombudsman’s investigation into how the school responded to Marshall’s complaint this year.



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