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Tauranga Boys’ College sexual abuse: Claims teacher Pinky Green groomed, molested young teen

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WARNING: This story deals with historical child sexual abuse and may be distressing.

David* was 15 the first time he says Tauranga Boys’ College teacher Pinky Green sexually assaulted him in 1975.

After that, he says it happened regularly for three years, until David could finally leave high school and escape Green.

Pinky Green taught at Tauranga Boys' College for 28 years. Photo / Andrew Warner
Pinky Green taught at Tauranga Boys’ College for 28 years. Photo / Andrew Warner

Now he wants a formal apology from the school for allowing Green to go unchecked during 28 years of teaching there, and acknowledgment of the harm caused.

In 1988, Green, who died two years ago, resigned from his position as English teacher at the prestigious all-boys school after another student, Glenn Marshall, complained that Green propositioned him for bondage when he was in Year 13.

Police investigated and found three other students had also been propositioned but none had been molested and propositioning was not a crime so Green was allowed to resign on sick leave.

Marshall’s complaint was not made public and in late 2021 he contacted the school asking for a public apology and investigation into how the situation was handled.

He believed reputational damage to the school was prioritised over the wellbeing of students at the time.

The school hired a lawyer who investigated and did not recommend publicly apologising but after NZME made inquiries in March 2022 Tauranga Boys’ College board of trustees issued a public apology.

It prompted more former students to come forward with their stories, including David, but none of the others claim to have been sexually assaulted.

Glenn Marshall sought a public apology from Tauranga Boys' College over historical sexual harassment by teacher Pinky Green. Photo / Warren Buckland
Glenn Marshall sought a public apology from Tauranga Boys’ College over historical sexual harassment by teacher Pinky Green. Photo / Warren Buckland

In David’s email to then-principal Robert Mangan, he said Green had “cast a long, dark shadow” over his life after he became the subject of the teacher’s attention when he started at the school in Year 9.

“Unfortunately, I did not have the ability or support to stand up to him so became a victim,” he wrote.

“On reflection, I have realised he had been grooming me for quite some time.”

Green, a strict believer in corporal punishment and with a reputation for over-caning boys, was David’s French teacher.

He was also in charge of the library, school newspaper the Hillsdene Reflector, and the debating team.

Green coaxed the young David into these extra-curricular activities and wrote about David’s sporting achievements.

In Year 11, Green offered to tutor David in private English lessons in the library at night.

David was in the top stream academically but not excelling because of a difficult home life where he found his parents distant and difficult to communicate with.

“I trusted him because there was no reference I had against anything that might have been peculiar in that sense.”

The first sexual assault in the back room of the library was such a shock David couldn’t move.

“I didn’t know what to do, what to say. I just froze. You switch off. You just want it to be over.”

After that, David says he was assaulted in the same way every time he had English tuition in the library, until he left school at the end of Year 13.

“It was essentially one kind of activity that he played every time. Towards the end he wanted me to do it to him – I refused.”

At one point, David says, Green asked him to recruit others but he didn’t.

He had no one to turn to, no one he could confide in, and said he suffered in silence.

By the end of school, he was an “angry teenager” whose life trajectory was irreparably changed.

“I still remember the day I left home to come over to the Waikato with this sense of, just relief because I was escaping.”

Pinky Green taught English and French at Tauranga Boys' College and was also in charge of the library, the school newspaper and the debating team. Photo / NZME
Pinky Green taught English and French at Tauranga Boys’ College and was also in charge of the library, the school newspaper and the debating team. Photo / NZME

But the psychological trauma threw his life into turmoil. He began drinking heavily and dropped out of university.

He drank for the next four decades.

Despite what happened to him, David made a success of his life, becoming the financial controller of a large company, marrying, raising a family, and setting up his own business. He’s been sober for three years.

David never told anyone except his wife and doctor about the abuse out of shame, even when his late father broached the subject many years later.

When Marshall’s story came out, David wrote to then-principal Robert Mangan and alluded to the abuse.

“If there had been some publicity around the [1988] complaint I am sure I would have come forward sooner but it has also taken me quite some time to come to grips with what happened, and the embarrassment and humiliation associated with that,” David wrote.

“To this day I have still only told two people and this is the third time I have admitted it happened.”

Mangan wrote back thanking David for his bravery in coming forward.

“As a former teacher and the current principal of the college I am deeply troubled by the actions of Mr Green and sorry to hear that it had such a terrible impact on your life.

“As the guardian and steward of young men, and in particular young men at a vulnerable time in their development, it is shocking for me to think about what it must have been like for you and I am very sorry it happened.”

Mangan, who taught alongside Green and retired in 2022, offered to share David’s letter with the college legal team and police.

After David agreed he never heard back and says no one attempted to clarify exactly what happened to him.

“This is not about Pinky Green anymore because he’s dead. It’s not a matter of revenge. It’s a matter of me needing to tell that story as part of trying to get over it.

“And that this school has tried to sweep it under the carpet and because nobody [else] who was actually abused has come forward they have been able to get away with it and I don’t think that’s right in this day and age.”

Tauranga Boys’ College principal Andrew Turner. Photo / Mead Norton
Tauranga Boys’ College principal Andrew Turner. Photo / Mead Norton

Tauranga Boys’ College principal Andrew Turner said David was one of four past students who contacted the college following the public apology in March 2022.

Turner initially said the nature of their abuse was similar to Marshall’s in that they were propositioned and that each of the students received a personal apology and was offered further support.

“Each wanted their identity and information to remain anonymous and confidential. I can find no further correspondence from these four past students.”

However, David says he was not offered further support. He also replied to Mangan and agreed to share his story with police, albeit anonymously initially.

When NZME made Turner aware David was the victim of sexual abuse he said the school would “absolutely” follow up.

“The BOT has indicated it will work with any victims to redress this matter.”

Asked why no one had sought clarification from David over exactly what happened to him, Turner said the school had not heard from him since he made contact in March 2022.

“…an offer was made to him along with the other victims that should the school look to take further legal action would he be comfortable sharing his email with the appropriate authorities.

“[David] responded to this by saying should this happen he would ‘review his decision at the time’.”

But what David actually wrote to Mangan was that he was happy for the details of his email to be shared, just not his personal details, yet.

“If, further into any investigation that might be launched, there is need for any discussions then I will review this decision then,” David wrote.

Asked whether the school would make a formal apology to David, Turner said the sentiment was addressed by Mangan but if David “requires further reassurance of this we are more than happy to do so”.

Turner said the school would be happy to re-engage with David to discuss appropriate support or redress.

He said the college would now consider whether to make a complaint to police.

Asked whether the school should open a wider investigation into Green’s conduct he said this had not been considered.

* David’s name has been changed to protect his identity.

Natalie Akoorie is a senior reporter based in Waikato and covering crime and justice nationally. Natalie first joined the Herald in 2011 and has been a journalist in New Zealand and overseas for 28 years, more recently covering health, social issues, local government, and the regions.

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