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‘We made history’: Small step in healing of Marylands School abuse survivors

A Christchurch park and road have been renamed to remove the reminder of the dark past of Marylands School.

From Thursday, the former Marylands Reserve and Marylands Place will be known as Validation Park and Validation Place, in honour of the survivors of abuse at the school which used to sit on the site.

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

About 540 boys attended during that time.

Following the school’s relocation to a site in Halswell, the park and road kept the name Marylands – an ugly reminder it bore for decades.

Peter Wall said survivors were finally being heard.

“For far too long we have sought acknowledgement and validation for the trauma we suffered. Today we take back control and reclaim this space here with our strength and resilience – survivors.”

The trauma would never fully heal, but Thursday was an important milestone for all survivors, he said.

“It’s been a long time coming, we made history here today. It’s a small step, but a large leap for all survivors, not just from the Hebron Trust and Marylands, but all survivors of childhood sexual abuse.”

More than one in five students of the school reported abuse and of the 37 brothers who ministered in Christchurch, 21 had allegations made against them – with 19 specifically accused of child sexual abuse.

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

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