Kiri Te Kanawa beaten by nuns

Violence in New Zealand used to be a normal part of New Zealand society. Many of the effects of this continue, as does much violence.

Today it’s hard to imagine nuns being violent but there have been many claims of violence in religious institutions and schools.

Kiri Te Kanawa claims to have been beaten by nuns at school.

NZ Herald reports Dame Kiri Te Kanawa: ‘I was beaten by the nuns as a child’

“I’m tough … I’m tough because I have had to be. I was beaten by the nuns as a child.”

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa’s revelation stunned an audience of several hundred in Whanganui.

The celebrated singer, in the city to teach at the two-week New Zealand Opera School at Wanganui Collegiate, was speaking candidly in a public conversation with fellow international opera performer and Baptist Church minister, Rodney McCann.

“I am as tough as I am today because from age 12, when I was at a convent school in Auckland, I was beaten by the nuns,” Dame Kiri told the audience at the Collegiate auditorium.

Some aspects of our society have changed markedly for the better in my lifetime. It would be unthinkable to hear of nuns beating children now.

Unfortunately some in our society continue perpetuating the violence they learnt as normal behaviour as children, and pass that on to their own children.

We have a long way to go before we can become relatively non-violent society.

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31 Comments

  1. I doubt it was this bad, and it depends on the degree, but this is probably a common thought:

    @MarkSReynolds
    Frankly, what Catholic wasn’t?:

    I’m a non-Catholic and was beaten at school if you count the strap and cane.

    It would be unthinkable for any school to beat children now,

    Reply
  2. Pantsdownbrown

     /  18th January 2016

    If Kiri Te Kanawa had gone on to become a violent drunk academics would be solely blaming the alcohol for her actions…….

    Reply
  3. Timoti

     /  18th January 2016

    ” I’m a non-Catholic and was beaten at school if you count the strap and cane”

    Yes, but you would’ve been.a bad bugger and probably deserved it. I can’t see poor Kiri causing mayhem. I wish she had explain why she was beaten.

    Violence solves little, but does have its place .Its a great form of control, and for some, the only language they understand. When a Maori kid has tasted dads hobbies at home, then comes to school and is told to sit in the ” naughty chair” – straight away you have a disconnect followed by a lack of respect for authority.

    Any proof of that? Sure, just look at the decline in behaviour since caning was abolished in schools. Whose leading the stats….. why Maori of course.

    I think a distinction needs to be made between violence and corporeal punishment. Although some may ask what the difference is.

    But ultimately, did these beatings do Pete and Kiri any lasting damage?

    Reply
    • Pete Brian

       /  18th January 2016

      It obviously left an impression of they still remember it to this day. Saying that it didn’t do any damage is living in denial. It’s like the Alcoholic who says that alcohol isn’t doing him harm.

      Reply
      • Timoti

         /  18th January 2016

        I remember lots of things “to this day.” Maybe you are right, I am living in denial. I remember so much….that means I have much denial to deal with.

        Reply
  4. Pete Brian

     /  18th January 2016

    I had a teacher who told our class that when she was a student she would get the cane. We asked her why does that not happen now. She said well today if a teacher tried to hit a student the student would turn around and give the teacher a beating. Kids back then were weak, kids are much stronger now.

    Reply
    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  18th January 2016

      What she probably failed to elaborate on was that nowadays the kid would turn around and (with the aid of his parents) give the teacher a good old beating up in court sending said teacher into financial ruin……..

      Reply
    • Timoti

       /  18th January 2016

      “Kids back then were weak, kids are much stronger now.” No, kids back then had a genuine fear of authority. And for good reason. Authority really was authority.

      Reply
      • Pete Brian

         /  18th January 2016

        I think what she was trying to say was kids were scared of authority back then. But now kids aren’t scared of authority. It’s the mentality that has changed.

        Reply
        • kittycatkin

           /  18th January 2016

          Wouldn’t much depend upon the pupil ? Anyone who thinks that in days gone by there were no violent pupils is kidding themselves.Or that all parents and pupils respected the authority of the school and its staff.

          If it was that simple, wouldn’t those children have taught their children to fear or respect authority ?

          And if corporal punishment was as effective as it’s claimed to be, why did children need to have it done to them more than once ?

          Reply
  5. Nelly Smickers

     /  18th January 2016

    I went to a Catholic Boarding School from the mid 70’s, and the Nuns used to either strap the palms of our hands, or hit us across the knuckles with a ruler. I’m sure we probably deserved it and learned our lesson.

    The worst I ever got, was when Father O’Reily was summoned over to our dorm, after three of us girls owned up to stretching Gladwrap across the toilet bowls in the Convent. He took great delight in giving us a good telling off in his loud Irish accent, then whacking our bums real hard with his hand.

    Overall, I’m sure it didn’t do us any harm, and I think we all ended up well adjusted young ladies 🙂

    Reply
    • Pete Brian

       /  18th January 2016

      He put his hands on your bum… Well that’s a whole different issue altogether.

      Reply
      • Nelly Smickers

         /  18th January 2016

        Yes, he was a bit of a strange old fish! Whenever Father O’Reily was summoned to administer punishment to the girls, he always used to say things like, ” Begorra, this is going to hurt me alot more than it hurts you “.

        From the look on his face, we JUST KNEW he was lying 😦

        Reply
        • Pete Brian

           /  18th January 2016

          Moral of the story is don’t send your kids to Catholic schools!!

          Reply
          • Moral of the story is don’t be Catholic, full stop! The corporal punishment was only ever required to enforce Church doctrines inimical to life, which pervaded education and probably still do, essential to prevent children being children.

            We adjust and adapt to whatever compulsory situation of ‘enforced teaching’ we are coerced into, never knowing what we’re really missing in the parallel universe of ‘free learning’.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  18th January 2016

              Then how come it was administered in state schools too?

            • I’m not doing extensive research on this today. Modern Western education began with Church schools which distinctly resembled the schools we have today. Education retains a very significant component of Church influence, as does Parliament. Enforcement and regimentation are foundations of the paradigm. When I went to Grammar teachers were still called “Masters”.

              “Perhaps the greatest single contribution to education to emerge from Catholic civilisation was the development of the university system … Starting from the sixth-century Catholic Europe also developed what were later called grammar schools …”

              http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2011/05/06/what-the-church-has-given-the-world/

              The secular State is a myth in my opinion. The influence of Church Christianity remains strong and pervasive in our society.

            • Catholicism “led to the founding of law schools, starting in Bologna (1088), from which the legal profession emerged, and concepts such as “corporate personality”, the legal basis of a wide range of bodies today such as universities, corporations and trust funds. Legal principles such as “good faith”, reciprocity of rights, equality before the law, international law, trial by jury, habeas corpus and the obligation to prove an offence beyond a reasonable doubt are all fruits of Catholic civilisation and jurisprudence”. (Ibid)

              I’m not saying these are bad things, but they are “Church” things.

  6. rayinnz

     /  18th January 2016

    Saw this on Twitter the other day
    If someone says they were beaten as a child, and it didn’t do them any harm
    Lean over and say quietly “Oh yes it did!”

    Reply
  7. Rob

     /  18th January 2016

    Those naughty catholic girls

    Reply
  8. Brown

     /  18th January 2016

    I don’t recall gangs of Maori youth threatening passers by at my local shops when I was a kid. I’m not excusing excessive violence but getting the cane was no big thing at school and the fear of it was a great incentive to not act like a dick. Not always successful mind you but I was never beaten. For me the distinction is easy to make but for young úns I’m not so sure where everything you may not like is an offence against you.

    Times have changed and it seems stupid to prattle on about what is what like 50 years ago as though people long dead can be blamed for what was normal at the time.

    Reply
    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  18th January 2016

      “I don’t recall gangs of Maori youth threatening passers by at my local shops when I was a kid” – more a state of overall values in society lessening than anything.

      Reply
    • In Aussie I saw gangs of White Australian youths threatening and abusing Middle Eastern-Asian-and-Indian-Australian shopowners for afternoon entertainment in the same way I’ve seen Polynesian youth gangs do in West Auckland.

      Reply
  9. Timoti

     /  18th January 2016

    I think we may be missing a defining reason for Catholic paedophilia and excessive sadism nuns.

    A persons sexual energy is the strongest force they have available. If this force finds no outlet, either from sexual relations or creative endeavours, that force turns on itself creating pathologies and perversions. Sadism and excessive cleanliness can be the obverse of sexual repression.

    Asian lamaseries and western metaphysical orders understand this problem well. They have exercises to transmute this potent force so their student don’t go off the ” beaten track,” so to speak.

    In the East it is called “Kundalini, “The Serpents Fire. ” In the west it is part of the Alchemy tradition.

    I find it next to impossible to believe the hierarchy of the Catholic Church knows nothing of this. Surely they have priests who have studied psychiatry. Perhaps having twisted nuns and priests who ruin others lives, is just a trifling issue for the church.

    Reply
    • Hardly a trifling issue Timoti, the ruining of “free life” was the Catholic Church’s reason d’etre in the sense of their being a self-perpetuating social control organisation or government. Denigrate and restrain that energy with doctrines, rules, rituals and taboos inimical to life, requiring the rule transgressor to seek absolution from the same Church, and you’ve got population control of truly awesome proportions. You’ve got a virtually closed-curcuit, foolproof control system ‘loop’, since life energy dictates the taboos are impossible for anyone not to transgress.

      Reply
  10. I remember at least 3 sadisitc nuns from my schooling. The first beat my entire class of five year olds on a lame pretext, the second (form 1 and 2) beat half the school every day on some lame pretext in front of my class, the third was at high school, and could not beat, but delighted in regular humilations which went on for 10 minutes or so, in front of many onlookers. No wonder I couldn’t get out of school quick enough.

    Reply
    • Klik Bate

       /  18th January 2016

      I think you’ll find that these days, they will have left the vocation and now all work as Consultants to Serco

      Reply
    • Pickled Possum

       /  18th January 2016

      @belledejour

      I had 2 days at RC school cause the nuns would have beat me every day and then my mum would have to go beat them.
      So off to public school where I got the strap Yeow!!! which was worse,
      they didn’t do it for God law
      the public school teachers did it for control and their own warped ideals.

      ps watched the movie belle de jour last night on the Maori channel loved it.
      are you a lady of the day? 🙂

      Reply

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