Each survivor who attends a private session is given the opportunity to send a Message to New Zealand. In these messages they talk about their experiences of State and faith-based care and their hopes for creating a better way of caring for our children, young people and vulnerable adults in the future.  Here, New Zealand, are their messages to you.

Please note, you may find some content disturbing or confronting.  If you need help visit support services.

Messages transcribed

  1. We believe with all our hears and minds, that all systems need to be stripped all the way down to nothing. Just like a victim has had to do. And then rebuild from scratch, just like a victim has to do.
  2. Being fully aware during my presentation that I was only one of many boys and girls placed in children’s religious care homes and that I remain emotion(ally) controlled; this was effective due to the venue provided.  This venue was comfortable, personally centred, a humanistic approach, no time limits imposed.  I had the freedom of speech, supportive, caring respectful environment in which sensitive issues were presented, ie there was trust of the Commission’s team, feeling and respect.

    Personally, I felt humbled by the support of those present.

    It is my opinion that in Marlborough a facility could be established (non State or Religious) with an Outward Bound approach to care for the children in need.  A model well monitored to assure a set philosophy and social mission is effective. This could be linked to the youth training system and Cactus programme established in Blenheim.

    Finally and personally I feel the baseline for fully recognising that all humans are unique and individual and temporary residents on this planet, and that all efforts need to be in place for each person to have a high quality and purposeful life, and all basic needs of love, shelter, personal and social care needs are in place and met.

    Sincere thanks to those whom gave me support with my presentation.

  3. Dear New Zealand

    I would like to share my views and thoughts on sate of care also known as Zips (CYFS now Oranga Tamariki) today.  I am a true survivor from birth when I was uplifted and taken into care in 1970. The things that need to change that I can see is that in order for a children, ie children, to have a better and safer upbringing they should be placed in a permanent residents (home) mainly with their families. It not a family and monitored with a mentor or person who can help them out.  Also assist them out to help them meet those needs.  Family First is what comes first yes but if any child is subjected to abuse in the family then why can’t this be addressed and looked at too. Help the parents become better parents.  When a child gets brought up and put throu so many placements, this is not good. The child he/she doesn’t have time for love, loses a good education, loses out on communication skills. Trust no one. This is a little part of my views and thoughts. Thanks.

    PS, What I would like is an apology and to be reimbursed for things that I cannot do but give to future of our tamariki (children) to make NZ a safer place.

  4. There is always hope for change.
  5. Hutia te rito. O te Harakeke. Kei whea te kamok e. When the heart is torn from the flax bush. Where will the bellbird sing. Harakeke calls. Use the lengths of my leaves to climb up to the oceans to the heavens. Rest awhile and float with the [illegible] of my [illegible]. Above all remember. My spring. My summer and my fall.

  6. We need to accept it. We need to change it. And become one with it.Don’t be afraid of the dark there is light at the end.

  7. Me No more.

    I was playing by the sea shore when a bad man first took me. I was only four. Yeah I was only four and I was me no more. I am me no more

    For my own sake I’m many years late remembering the first night they took away my ability to fight. Thy drugged me up and held me down. And they shared me all around. They violated me with violence under a bright light and as the camera clicked my mind learned anew trick. It left me there in that room and ran down on the beach outside until it tripped and fell on the rocks in my shell. Now I know there are no rocks on that beach other than those beyond realities reach. Now I can see me form behind the light. I’m cowering in the corner. I’m on the floor and I am me no more. I am me no more.

    One boy died inside that night. And I was made. I was made this way. Yeah Lady, I was made this way and now I know. I know I will forever be me no more. I am me no more.

    For my own sake I’m many years late remembering the second night they took away my ability to fight. They tied me up and they tied me down and they shared me all around. They then turned me over and they made sure. They made sure I was me no more. I am me no more.

    One boy died inside that night. And I was made. I was made this way. Yeah Lady, I was made this way and so now I know. I know I will forever be me no more. I am me no more.

    I’ve spent my life trying to understand who the hell I am. But now there’s only one thing I really understand. There’s only one thing I know for sure. I am me no more. I am me no more.
  8. You are a survivor. Be proud. Be strong. Never be alone again. We can build a better future.

  9. My placement in the Tikipunga Orphanage was an illegal placement. I was only four and a half. I had to be 5 and life from there on was hell with all sorts of abuse. I believe the stress of this has caused my cancer and my TIAs. All state wards I’ve met for the 2nd time have been in gangs and other fields that have been destructive and the cause was our state care or the lack of it I should say.

  10. Referring to Onehunga Boys Home, Owairaka Boys Home as it was in the 1950s. All I can think about is both homes could have let us get more involved in sports at the boys’ home etc. Indoor bowls, table tennis, darts and letting us get involved with the schools on Saturdays. These are my works spoke as my writing is very poor.  My wife has written it for me. Thank you.

  11. I understand that a lot of children placed in care these days are affected by the drugs and alcohol that may have been consumed during the pregnancy of the mother. Therefore it has manifested in the poor children. This can in turn result in a difficulty in the child’s behaviour, which in turn angers or aggravates the carer, hence violence.

    It is a very special person, not just a willy nilly, a family member that is capable or really should be allowed to take on the responsibility of doing what is a very specialised and important job. Patient, fair but firm, but most importantly constantly monitored and well paid. Perhaps a Royal Commission Training Progamme developed.

  12. “I am profoundly sorry for your experience in that staff at the South Community Mental Health Team did not attend to your needs in a way that was helpful and useful. I apologise for the times when staff have been less than empathic towards meeting your needs and less than helpful in assisting you to alleviate the distress that has so immobilised you over the years. You have suffered greatly and I am deeply sort that as a service, we have not been able to help you in a meaningful way.” 

    Otago District Health Board letter received 26 august 2010

    DON’T GET SICK

  13. Absolutely love your kids and grandkids!

  14. Dear New Zealand. Re: Royal Commission of Inquiry. It was my pleasure to give evidence to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care, ordered by Jacinda Ardern. I felt well looked after, and at ease. It has been handled very well. 1. I hope our comments show that the MSD handled our cases dismally, with the amounts paid out to us appalling with their reference, to fair and adequate. This should have been decided by an independent body. 2. That the horrific abuse that happened to us victims, late 60s, and the 70s, by the Social Welfare Department, never happen again to children, in our country.
  15. I was abused in a psychiatric hospital. I went through an Inquiry and a Review, and ACC claim investigation. I made complaints to the Medical Council, the Nursing Council, the Health and Disability Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Privacy Office, the Ombudsman. I had a mediation with the Health Board. Despite an out of court settlement and an ACC decision of Medical Negligence, the psychiatrist and nursing staff have not been held accountable. If an intelligent professional woman is not able to get accountability, what is the point of a Patient Code of Rights, or offices like the Health and Disability Commission or the Human Rights Commission? If mental health patients are not going to be believed when they allege abuse, what is going to stop abusive staff continuing to abuse? My complaint process was always about justice, not compensation, but I believe unless the State has to pay out hundreds of thousands in compensation to each psychiatric patient who is abused, they simply won’t care. The paying of compensation validates the fact a complaint was true, and forces the State to make real change so they don’t have to keep paying.
  16. If I had a message for New Zealand it is this take care of our children! They are our national treasures and the future. Love them to bits! Too many of our beautiful children are lost lonely and forgotten. Pull up your socks adult New Zealanders! Look around – Children are our most precious commodity – make them the centre of our universe – be there for them.

    1953-1959

    I was a ward of the state from 1953-1959 I was 6yrs old when taken into care. During this time I attended 9 schools. Had 8 sets of foster parents and lived in a childrens home 3 times. All this and no fault of my own. I was physically – mentally and sexually abused. Unwanted and unloved the scars remain today. I was always looking in, never looking out. How could this happen? It was going on here in this country and those in authority just looked the other way. Don’t do it ever again or the children will look back on their lives and remember only sadness - like me.

  17. On my view, governmental systemic injustices have failed many youth of our past and present in their many attempts to control outcomes that never heard the cries for help from traumatised individuals; troubled youth in particular. From my own previous experience within state care institutions, I strongly believe; to ensure those unfortunate, traumatising events do not repeat themselves it be absolutely imperative any state care institutions providing the support, care and protection of any nature for our youth have policies in place that reflect their purposes and intentions with a strong emphasis in providing safe mechanisms/avenues for any complaint to be heard without fear of any type of punishment or retributions for speaking out. In my time spent as ward of the state, rather than be seen as a child in need, I was frowned upon and seen as a troublesome deviant. Having no control over my life, I became violent within institutions in order for me to survive, having authorities continuously telling me, I got what I deserved. The motto was for children/young persons “to be seen but not heard”. I know the first step to righting the wrongs, to bridging the gap, is to finally give our youth a voice. Children/young persons should not only be seen but also be heard; without any discrimination in regards to age, sex or ethnicity. Long gone are the days where adult authority must prevail. How do you compensate for time living with traumatic experiences? Living in the shadows bearing the pain and scars of your past. By telling your story to the “Royal Commission of Inquiry” is a huge step and takes enormous courage, knowing that finally all those unheard cries for help are finally opening doors, that would normally be closed.

    I encourage any individual affected by institutional abuse; to register with the “Royal Commission of Inquiry” to allow positive outcomes for future generations.

  18. Fight to the death against these ignorant stuck up (redacted) who portray themselves as leaders. Do not let anybody dictate the value of life and the limited time we have on earth because energy transfers so there is more – bet my life on it.

  19. To all those in positions of pastoral car, duty of care, welfare, trust and responsibility in the care of young people, who are in any environment – particularly boarding schools and resident education bodies, integrated religiously based leaning environments. You unlike your duty of care of other people’s children, as you would your own, where your often vulnerable charges find themselves in new and bewildering environment foreign to their very young life experience at that point. May you nurture and support them in their young times.
  20. Social workers should not be allowed to drug children – Tired and warn out parents just need a rest. It should be stopped. If Dept. can’t handle kids without drugging them they shouldn’t be in child care at all. My findings of most kids drugged in care have mainly all ended up with drug problems or have been shunted off to mental health. That is not growth for anybody in economy for a better wellbeing. It’s putting all you have in your work to a liability of all they have tended to have drugged.

  21. “All abusive systems are facilitated by bystanders, whose awareness of what is disavowed is always partial, resulting in a state of knowing and not knowing. As dynamics shift, bystanders may have like victims – passive, helpless, frightened and frozen, or like perpetrators – taking vicarious and voyeuristic pleasure in abuse or actively aiding and abetting abusers”

    WE ARE ALL BYSTANDERS !!

    Please listen to survivors, even when it hurts. The most vulnerable members of your communities need you to listen, to care and to help. If good people are courageous, we can stop abuse.

  22. It seems that “abuse” and “care” don’t fit together. Yes, here we are. I ask that everyone in New Zealand open their hearts to the voices and [illegible] of those who share. Realise that our voices are valid, real and raw. We are sharing our valid experiences. My plea is that our experiences be validated and listened to. When we do that, we can honour the experience and soon alleviate this pain.
  23. I am the child, you the adult should know I am fed adequately I have clean day clothes. I have a warm safe bed. I am no one’s slave or servant. I do not owe anyone. My bath time is mine and free from examination. I can feel sad. I am allowed to laugh, even loudly. I am allowed to hold another child’s hand. I do not have to [illegible] every adult, nor to kiss every adult not to sit on every adult’s knee. My body is mine, it belongs to me. I am not a victim, it is/was not my fault. You are the adult, you need to help . You need to own up to take the blame. I the child reclaim the power, reclaim the childhood stolen taken without my permission without my consent.
  24. I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to talk to a Commissioner from the Royal Commission of Inquiry about the sexual abuse I suffered from my teacher when I was seven years old. I feel this experience will help me, together with the counselling available from ACC’s Sensitive Claims Unit, to leave behind that trauma which has affected many aspects of my life for over sixty-five years. Because the perpetrator threatened to kill my mother and myself if I told anyone, I have never told my mother what he did to me. It was only a chance phone conversation in 1995 with a woman who had been in the same class as me that I realised I had not been alone. She told me there had been a trial in 1954 and the teacher was acquitted of the abuse of several children including her. Although I never had the chance to appear before a court of law, I have had some kind of substitute justice by going through the process of appearing before the Commissioner and I am thankful to the Commission for this opportunity.
  25. I want to thank the Commission of Inquiry for the inviting me to tell my story. The commissioner Paul Gibson was outstanding. He was so humble and kind and generous with his time and energy. All the people I dealt with in this process were unfailingly helpful and always appropriate. The fact that someone in a position of power actually listened to me made the big difference. I felt after the meeting that I had been reborn, that I finally had a life. I feel like I have been cleansed. This experience has given me the courage and motivation to get on with my life and take opportunities I have never considered. I know there will still be some hard times, but I will just look back on this meeting when that is happening and I believe it will help me through. What I want to tell the people of NZ is this: People who have been abused in some way, sexually, physically or emotionally, are not crazy. It doesn’t help to call us mental. That makes things worse. Sometimes we develop mental illnesses as a result of this abuse, but we are not mental. I would strongly encourage people who have suffered abuse of any kind to find the right counsellor for them. This can make a big difference. Trust yourself to go out of your comfort zone to find help and explore new beginnings. This is straight from my heart.
  26. “If we always do what we’ve always done then we’re always going to get what we’ve always got!” We are a product of our environment! New Zealand our kids are our future, let’s stop hurting them and start nurturing, protecting and investing more positivity into the kids of our country!! Stand up NZ keep our kids safe.

  27. From seven to seventy-two

    I stood to read my story before the class on the mat. While my new teacher sat beside me at his desk. A man who should have been my guide. But instead put his hands into my pants. And carried out further acts behind the blackboard. He took from me sweet memories of learning and turned them to fear. He embedded in my mind that I would fail at the height of achievement. He embedded in my emotions that I was a victim waiting for abuse. And he stole from me the sense of trust in teachers. So that I did not attempt university until I was forty-seven. The repeated violations did not just take my childhood. They created a battle within my psyche to give myself value. I may be seventy-two years old but in some ways I’m still seven. But now I have told the Royal Commission all that he did. I have released the loneliness of my internal grief. I discovered years later there had been a trial. Where my teacher was accused of violating several girls in my class. And he had been acquitted by an all-male jury. But he had threatened to kill my mother and me. And left me too frightened to tell. Now I’ve told my story before the Commissioner. Felt some of the life-long burden flow out with my tears. I am no longer hidden inside my trauma. I have taken the first steps towards healing. The mental and emotional pain of sexual abuse. And am seeing consolation through counselling.

  28. BECAUSE: Do you remember that abused, scared, frightened little boy? No? nor do I. Because I am no longer that abused, scared and frightened little boy. That fear now belongs to those that committed the abuse and to those that scared and frightened that little boy. I am strong now, no longer standing in the shadows It is you who need to be scared and to be afraid Scared of the truth of your actions and of your deeds The scars of my abuse are fading, slowly, but they are fading. I will always carry those scars, they have become my strength, but the fear, it is no longer mine. My scars are being transformed into strength, hope, love, friendship, life. Because I am now strong, stronger than you will ever realise. Because now I have hope, hope for a better life and a future. Because now I am learning to love again, where there once was only confusion and pain. Because friendship is the beginning to understanding love Because life is for living in the here and the now. I am no longer bound by the confines of my abuse, and choose to grasp the freedom and move away. Most importantly, I have time. Time to grow, time to hope, time to love, time to live, time to discover who I am meant to be.

 

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