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Centrepoint was a commune in Albany, New Zealand, created in 1977 by Herbert Thomas Potter ('Burt Potter') and 36 others.[1] At its largest, the commune, created in the model of the therapeutic encounter groups popularised in the 1960s in California, was home to over 200 people.[2]

On Anzac Day 1990, Potter was convicted of drug charges.[3] In November 1992 Potter was sentenced to 7 years jail after being convicted of 13 charges of indecently assaulting five girls between 1979 and 1984. Justice Blanchard, said Potter had "systematically corrupted children for his own sexual pleasure and had abused the power and trust community members placed in him".[2] On release Potter maintained he had done nothing wrong and that he still believed sex from the start of puberty was appropriate.[4] Six other male leaders were convicted for assault on a minor, sexual assault on a minor or rape of a minor,[3] one of whom was Potter's son John.[5]

After Potter's fall from grace, the Kahikatea Eco-Village which had links to the commune and shared at least some members, occupied the site.

A study found showed that while not all of the approximately 300 children who lived at least part of their youth at the commune were abused, sexual relations with children as young as 10 had occurred with regularity, with parents either neglecting to protect their children from the assaults, or actively abetting them.[2]

Potter's son John is married to Felicity Goodyear-Smith, who formerly lived at Centrepoint as the community's General Practitioner,[6] now a Professor at the University of Auckland.[7] In 2005 Goodyear-Smith was one of the authors of a ACC-funded paper suggesting that a formal diagnosis of mental injury should be required before victims of sexual assault are treated.[5] The paper may have been a contributing factor to policy changes at ACC which led to a significant drop in the number of sexual assault victims receiving state-funded sexual abuse counselling.[5] ACC Minister Nick Smith is said to be uneasy about the involvement of Goodyear-Smith.[8]

Current use of the site

The site of the former commune was later sold and Wellpark College of Natural Therapies[9] opened in 2008.[10] The college is registered with New Zealand Qualifications Authority [11] and does not appear to have any links to the former commune.


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