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Dilworth Class Action

Seeking accountability and compensation from Dilworth School (Dilworth) for knowingly failing to protect the boys in their care from systemic sexual abuse between 1970 and 2006*.

Distressing content warning:  This report includes some of the former students' experiences in their own words, many of which are graphic and may be distressing. Some contain explicit language. This may be difficult to read and could evoke strong emotions. If you need support, please contact your GP, healthcare provider or the services offered by Safe to Talk. They are contactable 24/7 on 0800 044 334, or have a webchat function available on

About the Claim

"So many boys’ lives have been devastated because of Dilworth’s failure to protect them and it is completely wrong the School hasn’t taken any responsibility for allowing the horrific sexual abuse to continue."

- Dilworth sexual abuse survivor Neil Harding.

This legal claim is a class action complaint and has been made on behalf of all the survivors of sexual abuse at Dilworth.  It seeks to hold Dilworth accountable for knowingly failing to protect all students in its care from the systematic sexual abuse perpetrated by staff and representatives, at the School which we currently understand to have occurred between 1970 and 2006. (please note this is not a closed range)

The filing of the representative complaint against Dilworth follows many months of careful evaluation undertaken by New Zealand's leading litigation funder, LPF Group, and a highly experienced legal team.  


As early as the 1970s, Dilworth knew vulnerable young boys in its care were being sexually abused by its staff and representatives, yet the School failed to stop the abuse from happening and allowed it to continue for over 30 years. On numerous occasions the School was made aware boys were being abused. Instead of providing protection and support, Dilworth severely punished and silenced boys who complained and actively sought suppression orders to protect the School’s reputation if the offenders were convicted for their crimes.


"Dilworth must take responsibility for its role in allowing this systemic sexual abuse to happen, and for cultivating an extremely harmful culture of silence and persecution which has traumatised survivors over many years."

 - Neil Harding

The class action complaint has been made to the Human Rights Commission.  It seeks monetary compensation (known as “damages”) from the School for breaches of the Human Rights Act 1993.  The sexual abuse suffered by the Dilworth survivors is a form of sexual harassment committed in the context of education – which is a prohibited form of discrimination under the Act.  Dilworth is legally responsible for the actions of its employees and representatives who committed the abuse, having failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment from occurring.

Our Team

The Dilworth Class Action is being led by a highly regarded legal team, which has been established by New Zealand's leading litigation funder LPF Group. The team have extensive experience in litigation and a deep understanding of the New Zealand legal and regulatory framework.

The legal team are acting on behalf of all the students who suffered sexual abuse at Dilworth on a pro-bono basis. LPF Group is paying for all the expenses associated with the legal action without seeking to recover any fees or seeking any profit for doing so. 

Interested in joining or providing information to assist the claim?

If you are interested in joining the claim as a survivor of sexual abuse at Dilworth, or providing information as a witness of the sexual abuse, the School’s response or a survivor’s disclosure, please complete the form on our Registration Page by clicking this link:


If you decide to register your complaint with us, it will be treated as strictly confidential. There is no obligation or pressure to proactively participate in the claim once you have registered your complaint.  We will guide you through each step of the process as it unfolds and invite you to be involved to the extent that feels right for you. 

Please note registering your complaint does not make you a client of Wilson Harle or the barristers they have instructed. 

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