The Royal Commission’s Survivor Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) was set up in 2019 to represent survivors of abuse in State and faith-based care and provide strategic advice to the Royal Commission.
Survivors are at the centre of the Royal Commission’s work, so it is essential their voices are heard and respected.
SAGE provides feedback on matters the Inquiry is considering, to ensure the voices of survivors are heard and recognised.
SAGE complements existing survivor expertise within the Royal Commission. It assists the Commission in strengthening relationships with survivors and ensuring the processes for gathering information and hearing evidence reflects survivors’ needs. It also provides guidance and support on engaging with survivors and their representative organisations.
The role of SAGE does not diminish the rights of survivors and their representative groups to address the Royal Commission directly on matters that are important to them.
SAGE members Tu Chapman, Jim Goodwin, Gary Williams, Frances Tagaloa, Keith Wiffin and Rupene Amato
SAGE members have been appointed to ensure diversity and representation across State and faith-based survivors, and for the skills and experience they bring to the role.
The following are current members of SAGE:
Moeapulu Frances Tagaloa
Frances serves as the Chief of Staff for a global Christian organisation. Frances graduated from the University of Auckland, with a law degree and Bachelor of Arts. She is married to Timo Tagaloa, former All Black, who works with Athletes in Action, a sports organisation they started together. Frances is a survivor of faith-based abuse by a Marist brother in the Catholic Church. She was the first witness in the Catholic hearing in November 2020, has been seeking redress since 2002 and has been a SAGE member since November 2021. Frances credits her faith as playing a major part of her healing process and believes it is healthy that all faith-based institutions be accountable and guided by an independent body with matters relating to abuse in care. She has two sons Josh (28) married to Chelsea, and Trent (26).
Jim grew up on a farm in Fairlie. He is a survivor of faith-based abuse at boarding school. For many years Jim worked in mental health where most of the people he worked with were trauma survivors. Jim is part of a network of men who have experienced abuse. These days he is semi-retired and spends his time making things and growing food.
Rupene Amato is of Samoan and Māori descent. His father is Samoan and his mother is Māori (Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Aitanga a Māhaki and Ngāti Makoro (hapū). He grew up in Wairoa and attended a Catholic primary school where he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest. Rupene is active within the community and is a strong advocate for social justice. Rupene currently works as a union organiser for the Service and Food Workers Union and is on the Board of Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust (MSSAT) – Waikato Branch.
Keith Wiffin went into State care at the age of 10 after the death of his father. He was sexually abused while at Epuni Boys’ home in the 1970s and witnessed many other forms of abuse at Epuni. His police complaint led to the criminal conviction of his abuser, but his initial attempts to obtain redress from the Ministry of Social Development were rebuffed. Keith has been an advocate for survivors over many years and has advanced a number of ideas for reform of Crown processes, including redress.
Tu Chapman, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Awa
Tu is a survivor of abuse in State care. She was made a ward of the State at a very young age and experienced many forms of abuse from sexual to physical. She has endured societal impacts and has managed to overcome many barriers that were a result of her experiences of abuse. With this lived experience she is an advocate for change and a proven thought leader on issues relating to mātauranga Māori and tikanga Māori practices. She is passionate about enacting and informing better processes that allow hāpori Māori to grow and thrive. She is an active member of the Takatāpui Community as a representative voice of Ira Tangata – Māori who are Intersex.
Gary Williams, Ngāti Porou
Gary Williams MNZM is a member of the Commission’s Survivors Advisory Group of Experts. Gary was placed in care as a 13-year-old and left care in his 40s. He has been influential in driving change for disabled people and Māori for over four decades. He works as a specialist consultant to the disability, government and NGO sectors.