Independent inquiry into matters arising from the employment of Taurapa Matthews by Christ's College
Terms of Reference
The purpose is for Christ’s College, an independent private boys’ school in Christchurch (College) to engage an independent person, Janna McGuigan (Inquirer), to conduct an independent inquiry (Inquiry) in relation to all aspects of Taurapa Matthews’ (formerly Connor Taurapa Matthews, Taurapa) employment at College.
College employed Taurapa from 2018 until the end of 2021 as a residential tutor. In addition, until April 2019 Taurapa was a teacher at Rangi Ruru, an independent private girls’ school in Christchurch (Rangi Ruru).
In early 2019 College became aware of allegations of harassment of a Dining Hall staff member by Taurapa, as well as allegations of inappropriate conduct by Taurapa towards a student of Rangi Ruru (Allegations). The Allegations were drawn to College’s attention by a contractor to College (in respect of the allegations concerning a Dining Hall staff member) and by two members of College staff (in respect of the allegations concerning the Rangi Ruru student). The Allegations included claims of conduct occurring on College’s campus (Disclosure of Allegations).
A Teachers’ Council investigation into Taurapa commenced in late 2019 with a decision released on 3 July 2023.
Taurapa remained employed at College until late 2021. At least one of the two members of College staff who alerted College to the allegations concerning the Rangi Ruru student (the disclosers) has publicly expressed dissatisfaction with how the Disclosure of Allegations was managed by College.
The Allegations, and the disclosers’ dissatisfaction with College’s response to the Disclosure of the Allegations, are serious. College takes seriously, and is committed to, the wellbeing and safety of its students and staff members. Accordingly, College’s Board of Governors has appointed Janna McGuigan to conduct an Inquiry.
Scope of Inquiry
The Inquirer is to:
1. Receive any information available, including from former or current College staff members; former or current College students and their parents; former or current contractors to College and any other relevant person, in respect of Taurapa’s employment, Disclosure of the Allegations and College’s response.
2. Inquire into Taurapa’s employment, Disclosure of the Allegations, and College’s response.
3. Make factual findings (if appropriate) in relation to the matters set out at 2 above.
4. Consider College’s current standards, systems, policies and procedures, and College’s implementation of the same, in relation to Taurapa’s employment, the Allegations and Disclosure of the Allegations (including any similar incidents in the period proximate to the Allegations).
5. If, during the course of the Inquiry, other matters emerge which the Inquirer believes require separate investigation or consideration, the Inquirer will consult with the chair of the Board of Governors about the appropriate course of action. At that point, and if necessary, the Terms of Reference may be revised to include a broader scope.
6. Following interviewing any participants, where the Inquirer considers necessary, the Inquirer may invite any person to respond to allegations or concerns raised, where this will assist the Inquirer to understand the context of the allegations and obtain a balance of views. This will only be done if the complainant is prepared to put their name and details of the allegations on the record.
7. The Inquirer will not make factual findings in relation to any particular employee’s employment. If there are allegations made to the Inquirer that indicate the need for a separate employment investigation related to any current employee or contractor, with the consent of the disclosing person only, the Inquirer will refer the matter to the chair of the Board of Governors.
Process for the Inquiry
8. Commencement and term: The Inquiry shall commence its work from 10 July 2023 with the aim of providing a report by 31 August 2023. If the Inquirer considers it desirable for the purposes of the Inquiry, and following consultation with the chair of the Board of Governors, the deadline for provision of the report may be extended.
9. Inquirer: The Inquiry shall be undertaken by Janna McGuigan. Any assistance required for the work of the Inquiry will be at the discretion of the Inquirer.
10. Independence: The Inquiry will remain independent of College at all times.
11. Conduct of Inquiry: The Inquiry will discharge its functions in accordance with the provisions of these Terms of Reference operating with professionalism and integrity, and in line with relevant domestic and international good practice.
12. The Inquirer will, at her discretion, devise her own procedures, policies, and methods of working. The privacy of the participants is important and the following steps will be undertaken to maintain privacy:
(a) Interviews may be audio recorded and transcribed and copies will be retained in a secure database under the control of the Inquirer.
(b) Notes taken during the interviews will be private and confidential so far as the law allows and except as between the Inquirer and the interviewee, who may receive a copy of the notes of the interview if requested. The Inquirer may use the information provided in the interview either anonymously or, with consent, using the name of the interviewee.
(c) The Inquiry will be conducted in a manner consistent with the principles of natural justice and information protection.
13. When interviewing participants the Inquirer will request information and details from the participants to enable the Inquirer to understand the context and background as to how any concerns or allegations have arisen.
14. Role of College: College will:
(a) cooperate with the Inquiry to enable it to hear from the disclosers, students, staff and parents;
(b) ensure that the Inquiry can undertake its work independently and with due regard to the importance of confidentiality;
(c) provide to the Inquiry any information or evidence relating to purpose and scope or that the Inquirer may request, including any information which might be legally privileged to College; and
(d) otherwise assist the Inquiry as requested.
15. Findings: The Inquiry shall deliver to the chair of the Board of Governors a written report on the matters within scope.