Former King’s College student speaks of alleged historic sexual abuse at school; principal apologises, says school has made significant strides

National MP Sam Ufindel spoke to the media after revealing the vicious attack that led to him being asked to leave King’s College on Monday.Video / Mark Mitchell

Warning about distressing content

An Auckland businessman has detailed a “three-year ordeal” at King’s College – a historic ordeal for which the school has apologised.

The Auckland boarding school was unwittingly dragged into the headlines during the past month after it was revealed old boy and newly elected National MP for Tauranga Sam Uffindell was asked to leave the college for beating a boy late at night, allegedly with wooden bed legs, in Year 1999.

Deryl* (pseudonym) attended King’s Ōtāhuhu campus in the early 2000s.

“I’m a second-generation student and my parents thought it was the ‘right to participate’ and put me in the King’s system before I was born,” he said.

“Boys would laugh at each other mercilessly. Smaller boys were forced to expose their genitals to other boys who publicly mocked them. It was horrific.”

A former student at Auckland's King's College has spoken of the sexual and physical abuse he suffered during his school  Former King’s College student speaks of alleged historic sexual abuse at school; principal apologises, says school has made significant strides
A former student at Auckland’s King’s College has spoken of the sexual and physical abuse he suffered during his school

King’s College principal Simon Lamb said he and his colleagues at the school were “deeply disturbed” by the incident detailed by Drier.

“They have no place at King’s or any school setting. Clearly this former student had some terrible experiences at school and I apologise for that.”

During college, Deryl said he also suffered from “sex,” where boys in grade 9 are paired with boys in grade 13, effectively becoming their servants.

It was organised by the school, the former King’s student told the Herald.

“What ended up happening was young boys being violent, verbally lashing out. Thankfully my ‘gay guru’ wasn’t exposed to that.”

When it comes to learning the school song, prefects and the name of the haka, Deryl said students in Year 13 (7th grade) would force younger students to sing in front of them, while being verbally abused and dodging objects thrown at them.

Older boys would get punched and kicked by younger boys at lunchtime, and on more extreme days, boys would be duct-taped to the steel railings of the school commissary dividers.

“Food is often stolen by young boys, thrown on the ground, trampled underfoot and wasted.”

Off-campus isn’t much better, Dreyer said.

“On the way from Ōtāhuhu to the CBD on the train, you go through two tunnels, and at the beginning of the tunnels, the older boys would yell ‘tunnel beats’ and then charge at the younger boys and beat them with their fists and feet.”

He claimed sexual abuse and homophobia were “pervasive” at his former school, with boys labelled gay being bullied relentlessly and facing daily beatings.

“A boy was subjected to violent outbursts by boys of all ages. I watched and sadly participated in beating him because he was sissy.”

Deere told the Herald a boy was “sexually abused by older boys with clothes hangers”.

“Boarding school kids are forced to watch porn and then beaten when they wake up. It’s not just boys.

“I vividly remember a school assembly where teachers reminded boys not to pull up girls’ clothes and it happened non-stop. Girls were mercilessly meowed, wolves whistled and stared at.”

Drier said he was physically and sexually abused by a group of boys at the camp, which still affects his daily life.

“A bunch of boys stripped me down to my panties, spread my legs and slammed my genitals against the door frame.”

After that traumatic experience, Deere said he started acting out and felt distorted.

“The school sent me home, scolded me for disruptive behavior, and was dragged away by my parents when I got home.

“Every day is scary for me, from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, I’m filled with anxiety.

“I was terrified of getting on the train with other boys, I was terrified of calling my parents for my bad behaviour, I was desperate to get out.

“My last day felt like heaven after three years of torture. I remember walking out of school and swearing never to come back, but I didn’t.”

Lamb, the academy’s president, said he was wrong to comment exclusively on events that are said to have occurred about 20 years ago.

“One issue I can comment on has to do with slurping meat. It’s a historical practice in many boarding schools around the world. At King’s, slurping has been officially stopped since 2007.”

Lamb said King’s was well aware that every student had the right to feel safe at school.

“Under the current board and senior leadership, the school has made significant strides in improving its culture and encouraging student well-being. These efforts continue.

“We have invested and will continue to invest heavily in pastoral care approaches that emphasize the importance of student well-being and respect for others. The latest ERO report on the college states, ‘School is a safe place for students, both physically and mentally.

“Our Student Guidelines and Disciplinary Policy make it clear that we will not tolerate any breach of key school rules, including bullying, harassment and serious misconduct. These policies are regularly reviewed and updated every three years and are included in our Student Handbook each year published in.”

Lamb reiterated that if Derell or any other past or current student wished to discuss any concerns they had about time at King’s, the school encouraged them to contact the current headteacher in the best possible confidence.

Where to get help:
• If it is an emergency and you feel you or someone else is in danger, call 111.
• If you have been sexually assaulted or abused and need to talk to someone, call the confidential crisis helpline speak safely On: 0800 044 334 or text 4334. (available 24/7)
• Male Survivors Aotearoa offers a range of confidential support in centres across New Zealand – find your nearest here.
• Mosaic – Tiaki Tangata: 0800 94 22 94 (available from 11am to 8pm)
• If you are being abused, remember that it is not your fault.

where to get help
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth Services: (06) 3555 906
• Youth Hotline: 0800 376 633
• Childline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Helpline: 1737
If it is an emergency and you feel you or someone else is in danger, call 111.

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