Erasing Marylands – place by place, hurt by hurt


Christchurch’s Marylands Street and Marylands Park no longer exist. A renaming ceremony on Thursday saw a new street sign unveiled, Validation Place – and a new park sign, Validation Park.

In time, no-one will know Marylands Catholic residential school for boys (which St John of God brothers ran from 1955 to 1984) ever existed.

Marylands survivors have seen to that.

Victory and validation

Obliterating Marylands and establishing Validation is a meaningful victory to the men who survived.

Those who spoke at the ceremony said when they visit Validation Park they’ll remember those who didn’t make it.

One survivor said this:

“To our survivor community … I see you, I hear you.

“For too long we’ve sought acknowledgement and validation for the trauma we suffered. Today we take back control and reclaim this space here, for the strength and resilience of survivors.”

For the victims who didn’t survive, he said he will remember them and “I will validate them”.

Among the survivors at the ceremony was a man abused at another St John of God residential facility in Christchurch – the Hebron Trust.

The Trust operated in Christchurch between 1986 and 1993 as a residential facility for youth in need of safety, shelter and support.

Erasing Marylands from the park and road was a huge relief to him too.

“It’s a weight off the shoulders. It’s a small step in a long journey and for all of us survivors, as we work towards these little steps, it’s extremely important.

“It’s never easy talking about something that’s so hard, something that’s so traumatic” he told the crowd.

He said he was sharing his story because not everyone could, and he wanted to make sure the abuse they suffered was remembered.

Validation and support

Representatives from the Christchurch City Council including mayor Phil Mauger were at the ceremony. The Council has been supportive of the street and park renaming.

Judge Coral Shaw, who chaired the Royal Commission into abuse in care, was there as well.

Shaw said it was important for her to attend the ceremony to pay tribute to the survivors.

“I wouldn’t have missed this occasion for anything today because of them” she said.

Shaw and Male Survivors Aotearoa national advocate Ken Clearwater unveiled the Validation Park sign to officially mark the occasion.

History can repeat

One survivor is concerned about the coalition government’s plans to reintroduce charter schools.

Marylands was a type of charter school he said. People were hired without government oversight and without the need for qualifications.

“In some ways I see the Government stepping back … almost having history repeat itself.”


Additional reading

News category: New Zealand.

Tags: , , , ,