The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry has released a provisional list of witnesses who will speak at the Contextual hearing later this month.

The Contextual hearing beginning on 29 October at the Rydges Hotel in Auckland will be the first time the Inquiry will hear from survivors in a public hearing. 

Survivors, their advocates, academics and experts will speak at the two-week hearing and cover a huge range of issues and topics. It will set the scene for the rest of the Inquiry.

Commissioners will hear evidence from around 28 witnesses including:

  • Judge Carolyn Henwood former Chair of the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (CLAS) which facilitated counselling and assistance for people who experienced abuse in State care before 1992;
  • Arthur Taylor who was violently removed from his family aged 11, suffered abuse in State care and spent 40 of his 63 years in prison. He will describe his three stints in Epuni Boys’ Home and the abuse he endured and witnessed there, his incarceration in a psychiatric facility as a teenager, and the road he took from State care to prison.
  • Dr Rawiri Waretini-Karena (Ngāti Māhanga, Ngāti Māhuta, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kāhu, Te Rarawa) is a lecturer and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi. He will talk about the experiences and impacts of intergenerational trauma stemming from colonisation, arising in early legislation and policy in Aotearoa.
  • Fa’afete Taito’s abuse in State care in the 1970s led to him becoming a fully patched gang member and entering a life of crime. He left that life behind in 2009 to study and now holds a BA with a double major in Sociology and Māori. Mr Taito will talk about the broader experience of Pacific communities in New Zealand in the 1970s and 1980s, and draw on his own experience to explain the long-lasting impacts of his time in care as a ward of the State.
  • Mary O’Hagan, an international mental health leader with lived experience, will provide historical context of abuse in the psychiatric system, relative to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and key milestones between 1950 and 1999 and the survivor movement.
  • Mike Ledingham will give evidence about the abuse he and his two brothers suffered as students at St Joseph’s Catholic School in Onehunga. He will outline the effects on him and his brothers, the impacts on his life, choices and opportunities and the response of the Catholic church when they were notified of the abuse in 2002.
  • Dr Anne Else, a writer, researcher and editor will give evidence about the growth of adoption and the State’s involvement in closed stranger adoption since the 1955 Adoption Act.

A provisional list of witnesses and brief explanations of what they will talk about can be found here(external link)

A final hearing plan with confirmed witnesses and dates and times they will give evidence will be released in late October.

The hearing is open to the public and will be live streamed, with NZSL interpreters, on the Inquiry's website for the duration. A recording of the full hearing will be available to watch on the website after the event. 

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