Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Christchurch renaming seeks to validate abuse survivors

Christchurch City Council says a historic wrong has been righted with the official naming of Validation Park and Validation Place.

The Council has renamed Marylands Reserve and Marylands Place, both named after the site of abuse of children and young people, Marylands School.

It says the renaming followed calls from survivor advocates, and in light of recommendations from the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

At a meeting in April, the Waihoro Spreydon-Cashmere-Heathcote Community Board confirmed the sites would be renamed.

The new signage was unveiled by survivors, including advocate Ken Clearwater, and Judge Coral Shaw, Chair of the Commission.

Mayor Phil Mauger says the change contributes to puretumu torowhānui, or historic redress.

“Validation was the suggestion of the survivors of the events at Marylands School, who we worked closely with as we explored the possibilties for a new name,” Mayor Mauger says.

“The name ‘Validation’ is a powerful message to survivors of experiences like these – despite years of not being listened to or taken seriously, there’s always hope for validation, recognition of the experience, and taking back power in the face of what’s happened. It’s that strength we want to remember.”

Marylands School was a residential facility for boys, many with disabilities or learning or behavioural needs, run by the St John of God Brothers from 1955–1984.

The School was originally located in Middleton on what is now Marylands Reserve and relocated to Halswell in the 1960s.

Council said there was “clear evidence of abuse at Marylands School, and of the 537 boys who attended the school, more than one in five (118) reported abuse while in the school’s care, and survivors’ experiences there have had a profound impact on their lives”.

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