Former Kavanagh pupils add to renaming calls

Former Kavanagh College pupils Sam Murphy (left) and Christian McNab want the college board of trustees to change the name of the school. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Former Kavanagh College pupils Sam Murphy (left) and Christian McNab want the college board of trustees to change the name of the school. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Former pupils at Dunedin's Kavanagh College are joining calls for the Catholic school's name to be changed in the wake of recent revelations about historic sexual abuse within the Dunedin diocese.

Christian McNab (25) and Sam Murphy (26), both former Kavanagh College pupils, have begun circulating a letter calling on the college's board of trustees to change the name of the school.

The letter has been signed by 30 former pupils and supporters, and would be sent to the college before the board met on October 30 to consider calls for a name change, Mr McNab said yesterday.

The pair were also planning a public meeting, including for survivors and their supporters, at the Dunedin Public Library next Wednesday to discuss the proposal.

Mr McNab (25) said recent revelations, highlighting the scale of historic offending within the Dunedin diocese, had prompted his move.

An ODT Insight investigation has revealed the scale of offending within the Dunedin diocese under Bishop Kavanagh's watch.

It has also shown how he moved paedophile priest Fr Magnus Murray from Dunedin to Australia in 1972, following complaints about his offending, but then endorsed his return to public ministry in the North Island, where his offending continued.

There were also suggestions Bishop Kavanagh knew about Fr Murray's offending in Dunedin years before he acted, and that he bore ''command responsibility'' for other offending under his watch.

Mr McNab said he had positive memories of his time at Kavanagh College, but the name no longer matched the school's values of ''respect, service, truth and justice''.

''They [the offenders] are the ones who actually did the abuse, but he [Bishop Kavanagh] created an environment where there was nothing in place to stop it from happening.

''That alone is enough to say we shouldn't celebrate him,'' Mr McNab said.

College board chairman Trevor Thomson, acting chairman Paul O'Neill and college principal Tracy O'Brien did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

Neither did Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley, the Catholic college's proprietor.

The ex-pupils' initiative came after Murray Heasley, a spokesman for the Network of Survivors in Faith-based Institutions and their Supporters, also called for the college's name to be changed last year.

Dr Heasley, now living in Auckland, was head prefect at St Paul's High School in 1969, before the school was replaced by Kavanagh College in 1989.

He made the call after discovering a photograph containing Fr Murray's image - from his time teaching at St Paul's in 1968 - still on display at Kavanagh College.

The name change was rejected at the time, but renewed by Dr Heasley last month in the wake of recent ODT Insight revelations.

Dr Heasley will also be a guest speaker at next Wednesday's public meeting in Dunedin, as will Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust manager Ken Clearwater, of Christchurch.

The pair will also be present at a second public gathering, designed to support victims of sexual abuse, to be held on the steps of St Joseph's Cathedral next Thursday morning.

Mr McNab said he hoped a name change would be a ''symbolic gesture'' for survivors.

''It's not going to change what has happened, but ... we don't want to associate the current school with this past dark period.''

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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