Disability, Deaf, and Mental Health institutional care hearing
This hearing was held 11-20 July 2022 and focused on the lived experiences of survivors who are disabled, Deaf or were placed in psychiatric institutions.
**Warning** This livestream includes graphic descriptions of abuse. Well-being support is available via phone, text or email. If you'd like to watch previous sessions, click the 'event posts' button in the top right-hand corner of the video player above.
**Information and schedule below are subject to change**
Monday 11 July
Karakia and mihimihi
Introduction from the Commissioners
Opening Statements from the Royal Commission – Ruth Thomas, Counsel Assisting
Opening Statements from People First
Opening Statements from the Crown Secretariat
|11.30am||Irene and Margaret Priest|
Tuesday 12 July
Wednesday 13 July
|10:00am||Dr Olive Webb|
Thursday 14 July
|11.15am||Sidney Neilson and Cherene Neilson-Hornblow|
Friday 15 July
Monday 18 July
Tuesday 19 July
Wednesday 20 July
Kaupapa Māori panel
Dr Brigit Mirfin-Veitch
Day 1 – Monday 11 July
Irene Priest and Margaret Priest - Irene Priest and Margaret Priest are of Pākehā descent and are sisters. Margaret will discuss Irene’s experiences in care. Irene is disabled and was placed in Kimberley Centre from age six to 48 (1962– 2004) when Kimberley was closed. Irene then moved to a community care home. Margaret will discuss extensive emotional, physical, and educational neglect as well as medical and physical abuse that Irene suffered in Kimberley. Margaret also discusses further physical abuse suffered by Irene in her community care home and Margaret’s recommendations for change to disability care.
Mr EI - Mr EI is of Pākehā descent and spent most of his childhood in group homes, foster care, state residences and at Kimberley Centre. Mr EI was in State care from approximately 1963 to 1970. Mr EI will speak about how staff members and other adults physically, sexually, and emotionally abused and neglected him while at Kimberley Centre. Mr EI also witnessed sexual abuse and violence against other children at Kimberley. Mr EI will share the impacts that his experience had on his life, including his multiple and ongoing attempts to get redress from the Government.
Allison Campbell - Allison Campbell is of Pākehā descent. She started working for IHC as a social worker in 1980 and continued to work for IHC in various roles until she retired in 2002. Allison will speak about the abuse and neglect she witnessed in psychopaedic hospitals and in IHC care. Allison will discuss how people with learning disabilities were treated in a way that removed their individual autonomy and personhood. She will speak about her experiences seeing people’s quality of life significantly improve once they were able to become a valuable member of the community. Allison will provide her opinion on how we need to continue to improve the way we treat people with learning disabilities today.
Day 2 – Tuesday 12 July
David Newman - David Newman and Murray Newman are of Pākehā descent and are brothers. David will discuss Murray’s experiences of care. Murray has a learning disability, Autism, Tourette Syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder. Murray has been in disability care institutions since the age of five (1970s). David will speak about the abuse and neglect suffered by Murray while in care, his mother’s efforts to improve Murray’s quality of life and to hold people accountable for their actions, and his key recommendations for changes to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities.
Paul Milner - Paul Milner is of British descent and is a former disability sector worker and researcher. He will give evidence about being one of the Donald Beasley Institute researchers involved in the Kimberley Centre project. The project included research with the people living in Kimberley for several years in the mid 2000s, shortly prior to its closing and during the resettlement of people after its closure.
Tony Ryder - Tony Ryder is New Zealander and has a learning disability. Tony was placed into a faith-based institution around the age of 11, in 1974. There he suffered physical and sexual abuse and seclusion. He was then placed into the Templeton Centre from the ages of about 15 to 30 years (1978-1993). At Templeton he suffered physical, sexual, and medical abuse as well as seclusion and neglect. Tony will share about how much his life improved when he was able to leave Templeton.
Sheree Briggs - Sheree Briggs is a psychologist and certified behavioural analyst. Sheree was a psychopaedic training officer at Māngere Hospital in the early 1980s. Her evidence will focus on the aversive practices and neglect that she witnessed during her time working at Māngere Hospital. She also makes a number of recommendations on how to improve the care of disabled people today.
Day 3 – Wednesday 13 July
Ross Clark - Ross Clark is of Pākehā descent and has a learning disability and is legally blind. He was admitted to Kimberley Centre between the ages of 19 and 35 (1956–1973) Ross will share what life was like at Kimberley, including the physical, psychological, and sexual abuse that he suffered. Ross now lives in an IHC home and will also talk about how much his life has improved since he left the institution.
Dr Olive Webb - Dr Olive Webb is a Clinical Psychologist and worked at Sunnyside Hospital for about 23 years (1970-1993). Dr Webb specialises in working with people with intellectual disabilities and people who have Autism. She will also speak about her advocacy of the Intellectual Disability Community, as well as her role in the de-institutionalisation of psychiatric facilities in New Zealand.
Alison Adams - Alison Adams will give evidence on behalf of her sons, Nigel, and Malcom Adams. Nigel and Malcom Adams are of Pākehā descent and have learning disabilities, pervasive development disorders and Autism. Malcom and Nigel were placed into Templeton Centre from their late teens till their late thirties (1977–1998). When Templeton closed, they were moved to Brackenridge and remained there from their late thirties till their late forties (1998– 2008). Alison will speak about the physical, psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse as well as extreme neglect Nigel and Malcom were subjected to during this time. She will also speak about how difficult it has been over the years for her to obtain the care that her sons require and deserve.
Peter Keoghan - Peter Keoghan is of Pākehā descent and is a wheelchair-user and cannot use his hands. He was a resident at Tokanui Hospital from an early age until his twenties (1960s–1980s). He will give evidence about the different forms of abuse he suffered at Tokanui and how this has impacted his life.
Caroline Arrell - Caroline Arrell was a training officer at Tokanui Hospital for 15 years (1979–1994) on the psychopaedic side of the hospital. She was involved in the resettlement into the community of people who lived at Kimberley Centre in the 2000s. Her evidence relates to the neglect and abuse of people with physical and learning disabilities at these institutions. She will also give evidence about the teaching practices used at Tokanui Hospital and the long-term impacts of these practices on people. She will talk about the backlash she faced from other staff when she tried to speak up about the treatment of those in care at Tokanui Hospital.
Day 4 – Thursday 14 July
Mr EY - Mr EY is of Moriori, Te Ati awa, Rangitane and Ngāi Tahu descent. His evidence relates to the experiences of his younger brother, Jimmy. Jimmy was disabled and admitted to Tokanui Hospital at the age of 12 (1963), where he died two years later. Mr EY talks of the visible signs of abuse and neglect he saw on his brother, and the years, after Jimmy’s death, he has spent trying to get an answer from various agencies about what happened to his brother and seeking acknowledgment of Jimmy’s life.
Sidney Neilson and Cherene Neilson-Hornblow - Sidney Frank Neilson is of Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Porou descent and was at Porirua Hospital between the ages of 19 and 42 (1973–1996) under the Mental Health Act. He experienced extensive ECT, overmedicalisation, physical abuse, neglect, and racism. For most of his time at Porirua, there were no kaupapa Māori mental health services, which impacted Sidney’s recovery. Sidney and his sister, Cherene, will speak about his time at Porirua and how it impacted both Sidney and his whānau. They will also speak on the changes needed in the mental health system, namely a by Māori, for Māori approach.
Catherine Hickey - Catherine Hickey is representing her brother, Paul Hickey. Paul Hickey was of Irish Catholic descent and had connections to Tainui through his paternal grandmother. Paul was hit by a truck at six years old and as a result had a serious head injury and was paralysed on one side of his body. Paul was committed to Porirua Hospital when he was 15 (1975) and died by suicide while in State care at the hospital when he was twenty years old (1980). Catherine speaks of how the family were denied access to Paul, who disclosed to his family the sexual, physical, medical, and psychological abuse he was experiencing. Catherine will share that their mother would not consent to him being institutionalised and as a result he was made a ward of the State, in order that he could be committed to Porirua.
Alison Pascoe - Alison Pascoe is of Pākehā descent. Alison will share that she never had a mental illness and should never have been placed into care. Alison was committed to Kingseat Hospital (a psychiatric institution) from the age of eight to 13 (1950–1955). She was then moved to Carrington Hospital (Auckland Mental Hospital) where she remained from the age of 13 to 48 years (1955–1990). For decades, Alison suffered from physical, psychological, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as excessive labour, neglect and over-medicalisation. The abuse Alison suffered impacts her to this day. Alison will share her recommendations to ensure that what she went through does not happen to anyone else.
Day 5 – Friday 15 July
Donna Phillips is of Pākehā and Fijian descent. She has been in the mental health system for over 30 years (1990–present) and has spent time in Kingseat, a hospital mental health unit and community mental health settings. Donna has experienced sexual abuse, violation of privacy and neglect. Her father was also in Carrington Hospital and Whangārei Hospital. Donna discusses her father and shares her own experiences in care, outlines issues with the system and suggests recommendations for improvement.
Sunny Webster - Sunny Webster is of Scottish descent. Sunny was sexually abused many times in her childhood which contributed to her pathway into the mental health system. Sunny was admitted to several psychiatric settings including Manawaroa, Lake Alice and Auckland Hospital from the ages of 16 to about 32. Sunny will speak about the emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and neglect she suffered in these settings, and the impacts of consistently feeling overmedicated. Sunny will discuss the long-lasting impacts the abuse had on her, her family, and her relationships. Sunny will also discuss the ongoing trauma of trying to seek compensation from the Government for what happened to her, and her dissatisfaction with mental health care today.
Mr EX - Mr EX is of Māori descent and Deaf. He was born into a hearing family and doctors advised his family that he should be sent to Kelston School for the Deaf in Auckland. He attended from the ages of five to 13 (1966 to 1973). Mr EX will speak about being physically and sexually abused at Kelston School for the Deaf. Mr EX was also not allowed to use sign language at the school. Mr EX's parents were also told not to speak to him in te reo Māori. He will share his recommendations for change, including an increase of Māori staff at Deaf schools and a program to allow Deaf people to learn te reo through sign language.
Day 6 – Monday 18 July
Whiti Ronaki - Whiti Ronaki is of Te Arawa descent. When he was three years old, he lost his hearing due to contracting meningitis. Whiti was sent to board at Kelston School for the Deaf in Auckland from the ages of six to about 16 (1959 to 1969). At Kelston, he experienced physical, psychological, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect which continues to impact his personal life and wellbeing. Whiti will speak about children being smacked for signing, and about becoming involved in gangs as a young adult and feeling alienated from both Deaf and Māori communities. He will share his journey to turn his life around, embracing his Deaf and Māori culture, and his work helping young Deaf students. He will speak about the challenges that Deaf Māori still experience, and his hopes for the future – such as sign language continuing to include te reo Māori signs.
Mr EV - Mr EV is of Pākehā descent and Deaf. Mr EV was a boarding student at Kelston School for the Deaf in Auckland between the ages of about five and 18 years old (1969–1982). Mr EV will share his experiences of ongoing physical and emotional abuse by a teacher over two years, including witnessing this teacher repeatedly abuse his classmates. Mr EV also experienced ongoing educational and linguistic neglect throughout his schooling. Mr EV will discuss the impacts that this abuse had on him, including his experience of going to the Police and Cooper Legal to try to seek justice and redress.
Jonathan Mosen - Jonathan Mosen is of Pākehā descent and was born blind. Jonathan spent his primary school years at Homai College (from 1974). Jonathan will share his experiences of cultural and educational neglect and physical and psychological abuse at the college. He will also talk about his time in mainstream schooling, his experience as the Chair on the Board for the Blind Foundation and his recommendations for future improvement.
Day 7 – Tuesday 19 July
Lusi Faiva - Lusi Faiva is of Sāmoan descent and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at two years old. On the recommendation of a doctor, she was admitted to Kimberley Centre, and lived there until she was seven. At Kimberley, Lusi experienced emotional, medical, and cultural neglect. She will talk about how institutions dehumanised disabled people, and that care being provided by disability support services today still fundamentally operate under a similar system with a lack of respect for freedom of choice.
Matthew Whiting - Matthew Whiting is of Māori and Pākehā descent. He has Spastic Quadriplegia with a speech impediment. His evidence talks about his first experience of being institutionalised from the age of 4 (1969) and his experiences in family homes, hospitals and education settings as a child and young person (through the 1970s). Matthew was sent to Pukeora at age 11 (1976), and to Burwood Hospital from the age of 13–21 (1978–1986). He speaks of the neglect and abuse he experienced in all these settings, and the impacts this has had and continues to have on his life. He also discusses his attempts to seek redress through ACC Sensitive Claims and recommendations for change.
Shannon - Shannon is of Pākehā descent and has Autism. Shannon was in state foster care and residential homes from the age of seven. Shannon’s evidence will focus on his experiences in State care, the denial of his right to communication, as well as his recommendations for future change.
Leeann Barnett - Leeann Barnett is Shannon’s foster sister, who will further speak to Shannon’s experience in care. She will also share the experiences of another foster brother, who died in the care of the State.
Day 8 – Wednesday 20 July
Dr Brigit Mirfin-Veitch - Dr Mirfin-Veitch is the Director of the Donald Beasley Institute (DBI), an independent research institute specialising in disability reasearch. The DBI were contracted by the Inquiry to carry out a research project called “Tell me about you”: A life story approach to understanding disabled people’s experiences in care (1950-2006). Dr Mirfin Veitch will speak to the evidence gathered as part of this research and what findings can be drawn from it.
From 11-20 July, Disabled survivors, Deaf survivors, and survivors who were placed in psychopaedic and psychiatric institutions will share their experiences of abuse and neglect while in care at the public hearing.
In the past, many disabled people and people who experienced mental distress were put into places run by government or religious organisations.
Parents were made to feel that this was the right thing to do for their children.
The model of disability of the time often thought that disabled people required ‘fixing’ or hiding away.
Some children were placed in care settings and remained there for many years, even decades.
Being put in care often meant being removed from family. It separated people from their community, culture, language, identity and whakapapa.
At the hearing we will hear from Pākehā, Māori, and Pacific people who are disabled, Deaf or experience mental distress.
We will hear from survivors who have a wide range of different disabilities including learning disability, physical, sensory disability, or identify as neurodiverse. Survivors will speak about their life experiences including abuse while in State care. This will include: physical, sexual, emotional, abuse and neglect, including physical, medical, emotional, educational, and cultural neglect. While the Royal Commission has a distinct focus area of investigating abuse and neglect, we recognise that some of the themes explored in this hearing remain part of society today. By looking back, we can understand how best to move forward.
The hearing will examine the following key themes:
- Control and restraint in disability and mental health care.
- Sexual and physical abuse in disability and mental health settings by staff and residents.
- Neglect across disability and mental health settings, including lack of care and love; dental care; hygiene; and cultural neglect.
- Access to appropriate education.
- Adequate and accessible complaints procedures.
- The investigation of complaints by monitoring agencies.
- The impacts of long term institutionalisation on survivors and their whānau, with many survivors placed in care from young ages and remain in care today.
Under the current COVID-19 settings it is safe for this hearing will be open to the public. We warmly welcome survivors and members of the public to attend in person or to watch the hearing live stream.
The hearing will take place at Tii Tu Tahi, Level 2, 414 Khyber Pass Road (entrance is on Kingdon Street).
Survivors and members of the public are welcome to attend in person or to watch the hearing livestream. The hearing will be livestreamed from 11 July on this page.
If you any trouble or questions about accessing the livestream you can contact us on 0800 222 727.
After each witness has finished sharing their experience and evidence, we will upload a video to our website.
We will also upload the witness' written statement as well as a transcript of everything that was said by the witness, counsel and the commissioners while the witness gave evidence.
We always aim to get these published quickly, but there can sometimes be delays for a variety of reasons. We will keep you updated if that happens.
If you need a hard copy of a transcript or statement, let us know and we will send this to you. Sometimes it might take up to a few weeks after the hearing ends for these to be available.
Please call the Contact Centre on 0800 222 727 if you need help with these documents or videos.
The hearing space and building have had an accessibility assessment from Vivian Naylor, who is a Barrier Free Advisor from CCS Disability Action. We have made a lot of changes as a result of the assessment and other feedback:
- Designated parking for hoist vehicles. Click here for parking information.
- NZSL interpreters available in the hearing space
- Improvements to our furniture, bathrooms and tea and coffee stations to make them easier to use.
- Hearing assistance is available in the public hearing room.
If you are planning to attend the hearing in-person you can email the Contact Centre on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0800 222 727, to talk about what you’ll need. We can plan ahead to make sure you are comfortable getting to and from the venue and during the hearing.
Participants who wish to submit video queries or wish to submit questions in New Zealand Sign Language are invited to do so via Videomail.io please send your Videomail questions to email@example.com and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. Our team will reply to you in NZSL if that is the language you ask your question in.
Link to Videomail: https://videomail.io/
Here's some more information about Videomail for participants: https://videomail.io/faq
Information about the Disability, Deaf and Mental Health institutional care hearing is available in the following translations:
Note: The Braille attached here is an electronic copy, a braille hard copy can be requested from Blind Low Vision NZ please contact 0800 24 33 33 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
New Zealand Sign Language
“If we don't start speaking out about this and making changes it’s going to carry on.”
Survivor and artist Catherine Daniels will share her experience of abuse in care through her art at the public hearing.
In the four-minute video, The Secret Keeper, Catherine shows pieces of her art and reads pieces of her writing. She shares the impacts of abuse on her life and calls for change to stop abuse happening to more children.
Catherine experiences debilitating mental distress brought on by abuse she endured, some while in care. She uses art, sculpture and writing to express her feelings and emotions about her childhood trauma, including through a recent exhibition. Catherine never knew how to express the deep trauma she experiences until she began writing and sculpting her art.
Throughout this upcoming hearing, survivors who are disabled, Deaf or living with mental health conditions will share their own experiences.
This inquiry has received evidence through art, poetry, music, New Zealand Sign Language and both augmentative and facilitated communication.