An independent inquiry into historical abuse at Auckland's Dilworth boys school has described a "catalogue of damage and injustice".
Led by Dame Silvia Cartwright, former Chief District Court judge and Governor-General, and Frances Joychild, KC, it included 19 recommendations to assist recovery from sexual and physical abuse of hundreds of students.
Dame Silvia said the inquiry learned about the lasting effects of abuse on survivors and systemic failures and inaction by the school for more than half a century that enabled abuse to occur.
"While we understand our report will be distressing for the Dilworth community at large, we also hope it provides some help to the surviving men and their families, many of whom are still rebuilding their lives," Dame Silvia said.
"Regrettably the report we're releasing today is a catalogue of damage and injustice and we want to acknowledge those who suffered abuse at Dilworth."
Of the 171 former students who provided information about sexual abuse, 126 reported being abused at the school.
Frances Joychild, KC, said they were aware of a further 49 boys who were sexually abused by Dilworth staff or associated adults.
"Sadly we believe the number of former students who were sexually abused is likely to be higher and we note the police estimate 233 student victims."
Joychild said sexual abuse was committed consistently from the mid-1950s until the end of 2005. "It peaked between the 1970s and 1990s."
The abuse also included bullying and physical assaults.
Joychild said the bullying was mostly perpetuated by older, larger or otherwise more powerful students.
"The other entailed physical assaults on students by house tutors, house masters and teachers, including excessive use of caning as a form of punishment."
The examination of sexual and serious physical abuse in the report covers the tenure of each of the five headmasters since 1 January 1950 to the present day.
The inquiry said a range of sexual abuse occurred. It looked at harassment, grooming, bullying and the like leading up to the abuse.
It concluded there were many reasons that allowed the abuse to occur, including serious failings in school leadership and governance, the vulnerability of the boys, parental disempowerment, and a harsh school environment and culture that made boys less able to resist or complain of abuse.
The independent inquiry said these factors were being addressed and fundamental culture change appeared to be under way - but also that more work needed to be done, and continuous attention would be required to ensure the change was sustained.
Dilworth is a prestigious boys-only boarding school with the goal to take in children from often difficult circumstances and give them education, faith, and opportunity.
Many of the students started when they were as young as eight and came to the school following family trauma, dysfunction, illness, death or divorce or lacked a father figure. It provides a private school education at no cost.
Police started Operation Beverly in 2020 to investigate allegations of sexual abuse at the boarding school with at least 30 people being accused. Not all the allegations led to an arrest and nine of the accused died before the investigation began.
Eleven men from Dilworth have been convicted on historical sexual abuse charges after police received about 150 complaints.
Dame Silvia said today marked the end of the inquiry's work but it was just the beginning for Dilworth, as it repaired past harm as best it could and ensured the type of abuse detailed in the report could never happen again.