28 May 2024

Years of complaints over Tauranga school teacher's actions

11:35 am on 28 May 2024
Tauranga Boys' High School

A report by the retired police sergeant who investigated events at Tauranga Boys High School found at least six complaints from 1960 to the 1980s. File photo. Photo: Google Maps

A Tauranga Boys' College teacher who resigned citing ill health after he was accused of propositioning a student in 1988 was the subject of multiple complaints, with some dating as far back as the early 1960s.

The former student whose complaint ended the teacher's career now wants an independent inquiry to establish the school's conduct in the scandal.

But the school says a historical abuse cases specialist reviewed the 1988 investigation and described it as "exemplary".

The former board of trustees chairperson said they achieved the best outcome possible in the circumstances.

Details of more complaints have come to light in a report by the retired police sergeant who investigated in 1988 and found at least six complaints spanning the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Original complainant Glenn Marshall said the report proved more could have been done to hold English teacher Pinky Green to account.

Instead the teacher - who died more than two years ago - resigned with his pension and reputation intact.

Marshall accused the prestigious all-boys school in early 2022 of sweeping Green's conduct under the carpet.

The board of trustees issued a public apology for Green's advances on students during the three decades he taught at the college.

After the apology the school was contacted by several other victims, one of whom came forward publicly earlier this year claiming he was sexually abused by Green.

Marshall, now 53, said he believed the 1988 investigation by retired sergeant Russell Christie showed the school could have done more.

"They didn't go looking for those other victims to find out exactly what happened. Instead they exited Green as quietly as possible."

Glenn Marshall.

Glen Marshall. Photo: Supplied

What the Christie report found

Marshall was 17 and in the 7th form (Year 13) in February 1988 when he was lured by Green to the school library after hours. There - with the blinds drawn and the lights off - Green asked the boy if he would agree to be paid up to $20 per session to perform bondage on the teacher.

After Marshall's mother and another parent complained, the school hired Christie.

He interviewed two former college principals who reported a series of complaints from the early 1960s, including that Green took a group of Year 9 students on a picnic after school, prompting complaints from parents.

Former principal Garth Sim, who died in 2017, spoke "severely" to Green and banned him from taking students away from school unless accompanied by another staff member or parent.

It did not stop Green taking a boy home one lunch time in about 1963 where he propositioned the student, and later admitted caning the boy six times. He was threatened with dismissal, but apologised instead.

Former principal Norman Morris told of a 1978 student who wanted to leave school to get away from Green, by then in charge of the library.

The boy's father inferred something had occurred between the boy - a librarian - and Green to provoke the reaction, and said if his son continued at the college Green was not to have any contact with his son.

Morris, who died in 2021, believed Green to be a sadist, the report said.

Christie also spoke to a Year 13 student who transferred to Ōtūmoetai College in 1988 because of Green, but the statement has not been released.

Another former student told Christie a friend complained to him in 1987 that if he wanted promotion in the Tauranga Boys' College library he'd have to physically beat his teacher, Green.

Christie, who died in 2004, listed the names of three other students, which are redacted.

Two students he spoke to admitted Green had approached them individually to participate in "experiments".

"Although never stated by anyone I have spoken to, it is quite clear that there are sexual overtones of an unsavoury nature in these approaches by Mr Green to these students and there is an obvious degree of either sadism or masochism, or both, and I believe that urgent action should be taken to resolve Mr Green's future at an early date," Christie wrote.

He said he had no doubt Green's conduct was "extremely unprofessional" and in his opinion, in breach of the Education Act 1964.

What Tauranga Boys' College knew

The Christie report was unearthed in June last year, but Marshall did not know about it until April.

He was never told about the other complaints, or that Christie considered him so affected by the proposition that he appeared "to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown".

"Mr Green is persisting in his attempt to have Glenn Marshall attend or meet him at the library and Marshall has become extremely emotionally upset over this matter, and it is apparent that some immediate steps must be taken to resolve this complaint and remove the obvious pressure from the boys," Christie wrote.

Marshall called for an independent inquiry to discover the full extent of the school's role in enabling Green's conduct to continue, and why Green was not sacked in 1988.

"The school had several previous serious red flags brought to its attention regarding Green's conduct, with the 1988 Christie report revealing that the two previous principals were aware of serious misconduct by Green against students dating back to the 1960s," Marshall said.

"Had he been dismissed, all these other students that we now know of what went on, none of those students had to be put through this."

The 1988 board chairperson hits back

Former board of trustees chairperson Bill Holland said the board achieved the best outcome it could.

"They were different times then. Sacking a teacher was not easy in those days. It's by no means a straight-forward matter... He (Green) had the backing of the PPTA."

Green had a lawyer and Holland said the teacher never admitted liability.

Holland, a former lawyer himself, said if the school had persisted with a disciplinary process the students involved would have been put through a cross-examination process, and their anonymity would have been lost.

"There was by no means certainty as to the outcome."

He and former principal Graham Young met with the parents of four students, including Marshall's, and Holland said it was agreed to deal with Green in a way that protected the boys.

"I thought that what happened to the boys was terrible. I was 100 percent behind them. The process to try and look after the boys was the best outcome possible managed in consultation with their parents."

What the school says

Tauranga Boys' College principal Andrew Turner disagreed that the Christie report showed the school did not properly handle the 1988 complaint.

"The new board initiated an independent review of the 1988 Christie report by a specialist in historical abuse cases which described the 1988 investigation as 'exemplary'."

Turner said the school believed the process was handled properly in 1988 and because they had already undertaken a review the board would not conduct a further investigation.

Asked whether he was disappointed more wasn't done earlier to protect students from Green, Turner said matters like this were disappointing.

"We believe the school did all it could to ensure students were safe once the concern was raised at the time."

Turner, who became the school's principal in July 2022, said the new board had used the situation to review its policies and processes to ensure students and staff were kept safe.