Marylands School survivor pleased to be believed

Darryl Smith says having the Royal Commission interim report “Stolen Lives, Marked Souls” on Marylands out in public is a good thing.

Smith is a former student at Marylands School and a survivor. The Royal Commission acknowledges his quest for justice.

He is pleased that finally the children’s cries for help that were ignored by the Church, the Police, the State and the people running Marylands are now in public.

He is pleased survivors are now being believed.

“It’s good that it’s actually public knowledge and it’s good that it’s being read by people, and also that people now believe us that it actually happened to us,” Smith told Heather du Plessis-Allan on Newstalk ZB.

Smith, is a prolific author who has documented his journey and concurs with the report that Marylands was “Hell on Earth”.

Pressed by du Plessis-Allan on why it was Hell on Earth, Smith replied simply and clearly “Well, if you get sexually raped, I think you’d think it’d be hell.”

As a young boy, just two days after he arrived at Marylands School, Smith was forced to perform sexual acts on two St John of God brothers entrusted to care for him.

Pulling out a Bible, they told Smith “This is what God means by love”.

He was later raped on a marble altar.

The Australian province of the St John of God religious order sent five brothers to New Zealand to staff the Marylands School.

Most were untrained as teachers without specialist skills to educate disabled children and, within a very short time, all five had been accused of abusing the children.

As the Royal Commission reports, abuse at Marylands School was pervading.

“Of the 537 boys who attended Marylands School, more than one in five (118) reported abuse while in the school’s care.

“Survivors told the Inquiry that the brothers routinely raped, masturbated and indecently assaulted the young boys in their care. They forced boys to masturbate and perform oral sex on them.

“Abuse was so normalised, some boys abused one another.

“There were times when two or more brothers sexually abused a child at the same time or made the boys perform sexual acts on each other in front of the brothers. Sometimes this happened behind closed doors. At times, it was inflicted in plain sight of others as a punishment or threat. Children were threatened and physically beaten into complying with the wishes of the brothers and lived in constant fear.”

Smith says he is looking for compensation but also wants every St John of God Brother chastised and imprisoned for life in New Zealand.

Smith was also abused by the John of God brothers in Queensland.


Marylands School received referrals for children from state agencies, health professionals and parents.

The school was originally established to assist boys with learning difficulties.

But not all of those referred to the school had learning difficulties. Some of them were sent there due to being excluded from their previous local school.

The report says the state and the church failed to protect the boys because of a lack of oversight of the brothers running the school. It provides distressing accounts of abuse experienced by numerous young boys under the care of the brothers.

The report highlights their desperate need for support and recognition, and the inaction of the state, the Catholic Church and the Hospitaller Brothers of St John of God (Order of St John of God).

Coral Shaw, the Chair of the Royal Commission, said “We are aware of no other circumstances or institution where the sexual abuse has been so extreme or has involved such a high proportion of perpetrators over the same extended period of time as that at Marylands School.”

Shaw said that children were not believed by social workers, police, the brothers or the Catholic Church when they reported abuse and neglect.

The report contains no recommendations, as these will be included in the Royal Commission’s final report due in March 2024.

Survivors described their experience as “hell on earth”.

Needing help?

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  • Helpline: Need to talk? Call or text 1737
  • If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

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