Christ’s College, a prestigious educational institution in Christchurch, New Zealand, has found itself embroiled in a scandal, marred by systemic failures in handling allegations against former teacher, Connor Taurapa Matthews. An independent investigation led by barrister Janna McGuigan has shed light on the college’s inadequacies in dealing with Matthews, who was found guilty of sexual misconduct with students.
Unheeded Warnings and Prolonged Inaction
Alarm bells were raised in March 2019 when whistleblowers voiced concerns about Matthews’s behavior. However, the institution allowed Matthews to continue in his position for over two years. The whistleblowers, instead of receiving support, were subjected to intimidation and were asked to sign contracts to avoid Matthews. An act that the college has since acknowledged was a critical error.
A Trail of Misconduct
Matthews’s misconduct was not confined to one instance. The former teacher was found to have had a sexual relationship with a student and was also involved in grooming another during his tenure at Rangi Ruru Girls’ School and Christ’s College. Such grave accusations led to Matthews being struck off the teaching register.
Flawed Practices and Procedures
The investigation brought to light poor communication within the college and a failure to report Matthews’s inappropriate behavior to the Teaching Council. In addition, the college’s recruitment and induction processes for live-in tutors were found to be lacking in rigor. Matthews, who once served as a live-in tutor, slipped through these inadequately stringent processes.
Post-Investigation Changes and Matthews’s Current Role
Following the investigation, the college issued apologies to the victims and whistleblowers and implemented changes based on recommendations and a review by Child Matters. Matthews, meanwhile, has found employment as a senior advisor for Te Puni Kōkiri, the Government’s principal policy advisor on Māori wellbeing and development, which states that it adhered to a robust recruitment process. The Teaching Council, which could have asked Matthews to stand down in 2019, finally acted upon a victim’s affidavit earlier this year.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn