Former teacher from Christchurch school groomed 16-year-old, performed sex acts

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Jul 03, 2023 |

A teacher’s registration has been cancelled after he groomed a 16-year-old student at Christchurch high school.

Taurapa (formerly known as Connor Taurapa Matthews), had been employed as a Te Reo Māori teacher at Rangi Ruru Girls School from 2018 until April 2019.

In addition to his teaching role, Taurapa also served as a House Tutor at ‘Jacob’s House,’ a boarding house affiliated with Christ’s College. Rangi Ruru and Christ’s College have a close working relationship.

Taurapa also worked at Stuff, translating news articles into te reo Māori, although he no longer employed there.

Taurapa’s resignation from Rangi Ruru came in April, 2019 during an ongoing investigation into his conduct.

While the names of students involved in Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal cases are typically protected, former student Helena Dray requested the tribunal waive this order, allowing her identity to be disclosed.

Dray provided a detailed account of the events that transpired in 2018. At the time, she was a Year 12 student at Rangi Ruru, starting at the age of 15 and turning 16 on April 7 of that year.

Dray explained that Taurapa drove her home one evening after a school activity and made suggestive comments about their plans.

Despite her reluctance, Dray engaged in oral sex with Taurapa in a secluded area where he had driven them. Taurapa engaged in digital penetration before dropping her off at her residence.

Dray further revealed that nude photographs were exchanged between her and Taurapa via messaging after she had turned 16.

Some of these images were taken when she was only 15, and Taurapa was aware of this fact as she had explicitly informed him.

Taurapa reciprocated by sending explicit videos and photos, including ones depicting him masturbating.

According to Dray, these exchanges occurred on numerous occasions, too numerous for her to keep count, and became increasingly frequent by mid-2018.

Dray also recounted Taurapa’s requests for engaging in “sexting,” involving explicit sexual messages.

Taurapa would send lengthy messages describing his desires, which included sexual intercourse and oral sex with Dray.

The situation escalated when Taurapa urged Dray to perform live masturbation for him on camera. She reluctantly agreed but later declined to continue with such acts.

The Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal concluded that Taurapa had pursued and engaged in a personal and sexual relationship with Dray.

“What started as grooming tactics, including attention and gifts, quickly devolved into an extremely inappropriate and sexualised relationship.”

“We conclude that his inappropriate interest in Dray must have begun when she was still 15, given the nature of the birthday gift and poetry on her 16th birthday, as well as the sexualised content of the subsequent message,” stated the tribunal.

During the investigation, Taurapa allowed his clinical psychologist to share information from their sessions with the Teaching Council.

Taurapa blames his “upbringing in te ao Māori”

At the Complaints Assessment Committee meeting, Taurapa authorised his clinical psychologist to release information about his sessions with her to the Teaching Council.

At the meeting, Taurapa explained the disconnect between his upbringing in te ao Māori and his understanding of the obligations of Te Aho Matua in respect to the hauora (Hauora is a Māori philosophy of health and well-being unique) of tamariki, and the professional boundaries of the teaching profession.

Taurapa explained that, in his capacity as an inexperienced provisional teacher, he had failed to comprehend the extent of the cultural differences and that he had since received additional professional training to improve his understanding of a more Pākehā focused approach before gaining his full professional practising certificate.

He acknowledged his failure, as an inexperienced provisional teacher, to fully comprehend these obligations but claimed to have received additional professional training to improve his understanding before obtaining his full professional practicing certificate.

Taurapa sought continued name suppression, arguing that, as a Māori, he would be subjected to “tabloid-style” publications.

However, the tribunal dismissed his argument, emphasising that any significant media attention would be a consequence of his breach of trust as an adult male teacher.

Both Christ’s College and Rangi Ruru sought a non-publication order through their legal representative.

Rangi Ruru’s application revolved around the concern that identifying the school attended by Dray may lead to her identification or result in incorrect rumours about other students.

However, the tribunal ruled that since Dray’s name was not be subject to a non-publication order, the arguments held no weight.

The tribunal noted that while schools may face repercussions following a finding of serious misconduct against a teacher, the principle of open justice is rarely displaced. It is ultimately the teacher who committed the misconduct, not the school.

The schools’ lawyer further contended that the involvement of two private secondary schools increased the risk of disproportionate media coverage, potentially causing distress to students and harming the schools’ reputations.

The tribunal did not accept this as a significant concern.

“Cases involving teachers engaging in inappropriate relationships with students often attract media attention regardless of whether the school is public or private. The conduct itself, rather than the type of school, is what drives media attention.

The tribunal ordered the cancellation of Taurapa’s teacher’s registration.

They noted that had not been made aware of any criminal complaint or police investigation regarding the matter.

The tribunal acknowledged that both Christ’s College and Rangi Ruru acted appropriately upon learning of the concerns raised.


If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact
Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7: Call 0800 044 334 / Text 4334./ Email [email protected]
Youthline 0800 376 633, free text: 234, email: [email protected]

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 to talk to a trained counsellor

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 for counselling and support

Health Line 0800 611 116 – for information and advice about health issues

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

Have you got a news tip? Get in touch here

got a news tip?