Tupua Urlich is from Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga. He will share his lived experience of being taken into State care from the age of five to 15. Tupua was placed in multiple foster homes and attended nine schools in 12 years during his time in care. This created a lack of stability and safety as a child, which has resulted in Tupua advocating for children in care.
Ihorangi Reweti-Peters is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa descent. He was placed in State care at a very young age. He will share his lived experiences of physical and mental abuse while in the care of Child, Youth and Family Services and Oranga Tamariki. Ihorangi's evidence will focus on contemporary experiences of abuse in care.
Whānau group – Ms AG, Ms AH, Mr AI, Ms AJ, Ms AK
This group involves five siblings across one whānau. All are of Waikato-Tainui descent and were placed in State care at a young age.
Ms AG suffered psychological and sexual abuse in State care and was isolated and denied adequate access to schooling and education. As a mother, Ms AG continues to suffer from the impacts of the abuse on her wairua and whānau and whakapapa connections. Ms AG discusses that tamariki in care need better access to support systems, and the need for more adequate caregiver checks.
Ms AH was uplifted as a child due to reports of family violence and neglect. She suffered physical, verbal, psychological abuse, neglect and was denied adequate education. She is rebuilding whānau relationships but has suffered cultural alienation from her time in State care. Ms AH still struggles with State care induced trauma and calls for better support systems in place for tamariki in State care and their parents.
Mr AI spent most of his childhood in the care of Child, Youth and Family Services. He suffered physical and psychological abuse and lived in a constant state of anxiety. His time in care dislocated him from his culture and whānau. Mr AI recommends adequate compensation and a State apology for the harm they have caused. His father also went through State care.
Ms AJ experienced neglect, verbal, psychological, physical and sexual abuse, lack of medical attention, separation from siblings, and forced labour. The impacts of her time in care include a loss of educational opportunities, anxiety, issues with mental health, disconnection from her siblings and culture. She recommends better support for social worker standards and training, better educational opportunities, ensuring connection with whānau, whakapapa and culture, and compensation for the harm caused.
Ms AK suffered neglect, verbal, psychological, physical and sexual abuse and was denied an education. Her time in care resulted in PTSD, anxiety, addiction and cultural alienation. She recommends improving the current care system, including by ensuring that te Tiriti o Waitangi be better incorporated into the care system.
Glenda Maihi is of Te Arawa descent. She was placed into foster care by the Department of Social Welfare from the age of five. Glenda speaks about the physical and psychological trauma she experienced during these placements. Glenda shares her lived experiences of being in foster care in the hope that the system will do better for other children. Glenda discusses recommendations as she does not want other children to endure what happened to her.
Ms AF has Sami, Navajo, Aboriginal and Māori – Ngāti Tāhinga me Whakatōhea – whakapapa. Ms AF's evidence relates to the abuse suffered in the care of her Pākehā adoptive family and in the care of Catholic institutions, including the forced adoption of her son. Ms AF tells the story of how her adoption and the recording of "European" as her ethnicity on her birth certificate had the effect of severing her connection to her whakapapa and whenua, and how those impacts have caused intergenerational harm for her whānau.
Ms AE was adopted from a young age and experienced physical, sexual and emotional abuse from her adoptive parents. She went through Allendale and Bollard Girls’ Home and spent time in foster care. Ms AE will talk about the effects the abuse has had on her, including the intergenerational effects of adoption on her connection to her whakapapa and culture.
Tumohe Clarke is a descendant of Ngāti Hauā and Ngāti Koroki Kahukura. He shares his own lived experience of abuse in State care, but also speaks about the experiences of his siblings, who have passed on. They were also survivors of abuse in State care. He discusses the abuse that they all suffered and the impacts this abuse has had on them individually and in their whānau, across generations.
Ms NN will share her lived experiences of abuse in State care and social worker neglect, including how that neglect exacerbated her experiences of abuse. Ms NN will also talk about her experiences of racism in the State care system, and the impacts that the abuse, neglect, and racism have had on her.
Hohepa Taiaroa is from Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga. His life was turned upside down with the separation of his parents. He lived on the streets and came to the attention of the Department of Social Welfare and Police. He discusses how institutional racism has led to the deprivation and loss of his language, culture, identity and name. Hohepa will speak about the abuse he experienced at various residences and how his time in those settings set him on his pathway to prison.
Te Aroha Knox is of Waikato-Tainui and Ngāpuhi descent. Te Aroha went into care at 10 years old because of abuse at home. She went through foster homes and different institutions, including Allendale Girls’ Home, Bollard Girls’ Home, and Fareham House. She experienced abuse and social worker neglect while in care. Te Aroha speaks about healing through embracing her taha Māori, and how learning about the Te Whare Tapa Whā model has helped her in her journey of healing.
Karanui whānau Kuini was placed in state care at age 11 due to truancy. She was sexually abused in two of the three homes she was placed in. As an adult, Kuini used the Māori values of tika, pono and aroha which were instilled in her as a child, to go on to care for many tamariki in need. She cared for these tamariki in the hope that she could keep them safe. Kuini wanted her story shared in the hope that it helps the Government better understand how to look after our tamariki today.
Paora Sweeney grew up in a loving family but suffered the trauma of losing his parents and both his sisters at a young age. He ended up in State care. Paora has multiple experiences of being placed in care and custody facilities as an adolescent, and experiences of being abused in care. He talks about the clear link between being placed in care and ending up in gangs and adult incarceration, and the impacts of the abuse on him.
Wiremu Waikari is of Ngāti Porou descent. He has reclaimed his ingoa as a way of rejecting his experiences of abuse in care. Wiremu speaks about being adopted, being placed in child welfare and state care. He discusses the abuse that he suffered in these settings, which included physical, verbal, psychological and sexual abuse. He also discusses his experiences of racism in the care system, and the impacts that racism had on him. Wiremu is now a qualified social worker and counsellor, and presently works as a Māori consultant and a Māori advisor to many organisations, including the Royal Commission of Inquiry. Wiremu shares his recommendations of cultural support and healing for Māori survivors of abuse.
Harry Tutahi was taken into care as a young child and spent time in many State facilities, including Epuni Boys’ Home, Holdsworth and Hōkio Beach. Harry will share how his lived experiences of abuse in these facilities inevitably led to him spending time in prison as a teenager and then as a young adult. Harry will also discuss the impacts the abuse has had on his life.
Waiana Kotara is of Māori and Scottish descent. She will share her lived experiences of abuse before, during and after being placed in State care. She will discuss the impact that the abuse in care has had on her life, and how it impacted on her pathway in life. Waiana will also discuss recommendations including having a safe avenue for children in care to share concerns that they have.
Rev. Dinah Lambert is of Ngāti Kahungunu descent. She and her siblings were placed into care at a young age. They were often split up, moving between children's homes and her father's care at different points in time. Rev. Dinah will share her experience of abuse in care, including at Abbotsford Home, an Anglican run institution. She will describe the impact that that abuse has had on her life, including on her connection to her Māoritanga. Rev. Dinah found her faith later in life and draws great strength from it. She has been an ordained Priest of the Anglican Church for many years.
Mr MM experienced abuse before being placed in care. He spent time at Ōwairaka, Oakley Hospital, several foster homes and Waikeria Borstal. He experienced significant abuse in care. While at borstal, he was wrongly accused of being involved in a fight with staff and convicted of serious violence charges. This impacted his future dealings with the justice system. He has received very little assistance to deal with the impacts of the abuse he experienced as a child.
Natasha Emery focuses her kōrero on her and her late brother’s childhood and adolescence. This includes their relationships with parent figures, as well as their experiences in State care. Natasha also speaks about how the impacts of these experiences shaped her and her brother’s lives, and the resulting intergenerational effects of trauma on their own whānau, including Natasha’s late son.
Harris whānau – Te Enga, Joyce, Mereani, Stuart
Te Enga Harris is of Māori descent and is the oldest of her siblings, who were also put through the State care system. Te Enga suffered the trauma of physical, verbal and sexual abuse in care. When she eventually left care, she felt failed by the Crown. Te Enga also tells the stories of her whānau members who did not survive the ongoing effects of the abuse they suffered, and the intergenerational impact this abuse has had on her entire whānau.
Joyce Harris and her twin sister were placed in care together and didn't see their whānau for ten years. Joyce speaks to their intertwined experiences of abuse in foster care and girls’ homes, living on the streets and finding refuge in gangs. She speaks about her twin's battle with depression and placement in mental institutions, her own pregnancy at age 12 from being sexually abused by her foster father, and the intergenerational effects of this on her tamariki and mokopuna. This included her daughter dying while in the care of Child, Youth and Family Services, and her children, mokopuna and now great-grand-children being placed in care.
Mereani Harris was made a State ward as a young child, which she says was the end of her happiness. She suffered physical and sexual abuse in care and was not provided with adequate support by social workers. This resulted in anger and loss, including the loss of her cultural connections. Mereani discusses the impact this abuse has had on her life, and on the lives of her whānau.
Stuart Harris is a descendent of Ngāti Pikiao, Te Rarawa and Ngāti Uenuku. Stuart is Joyce’s son. Stuart was placed in State care at a young age and during this time suffered physical, verbal and sexual abuse. He struggled with social workers who failed to care for him and was passed on to the youth justice system and then the criminal justice system. After spending a lot of time in prison, he is now trying to heal and live his life differently.
Closing panel for the Māori public hearing
The panel will be made up of five representatives who will speak from different lived experiences. Some are survivors, and others have worked with survivors and in the State care system. Panellists will listen to all evidence shared by witnesses across the two-week hearing. They will provide context to the lived experiences shared by survivors. Panellists will explore what a transformed State care system could look like for Māori.
Paora Moyle (Ngāti Porou) is a survivor of both State and faith-based abuse and has 30 years’ experience as a social worker. She was a lead claimant in the Waitangi Tribunal Oranga Tamariki inquiry. She is currently studying towards a doctorate in child trauma and State care. Over many years, Paora has used her lived experience to support other survivor whānau. She was one of the authors of the 2021 Hāhā-uri, hāhā-tea – Māori Involvement in State Care 1950-1999 report.
Tupua Urlich (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga) is a survivor, who was in State care from the age of five to 15. He uses his experience of the State care system to advocate for change, so rangatahi today do not have to experience what he did.
Gary Williams MNZM For more than 40 years, Gary has been influential in driving change for disabled people and Māori. He is a proud trustee of Ngā Hau e Whā National Marae in Ōtautahi, and other NGOs. Gary is a member of the Royal Commission’s Survivor Advisory Group of Experts.
Hera Clarke (Te Aupōuri, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou) has an extensive background as a social worker and counsellor. She has experience in senior management with Ministry of Social Development, Oranga Tamariki and its predecessor Child Youth and Family. Hera has led family and sexual violence programmes and been a social work lecturer at Unitech teaching family systems and te Tiriti o Waitangi. She has held senior roles in the Anglican Church.
Denise Messiter is from Ngāti Pūkenga ki Waiau. She has a background in Māori and indigenous peoples development and has worked alongside indigenous communities in South Africa and Australia to implement social and economic solutions that seek to reclaim their independence. Denise is the general manager of Te Whāriki Mana Wāhine o Hauraki, supporting whānau who have lived experience of mahi tūkino - or domestic and sexual violence, and abuse in care - to design their healing pathways using tāngata whenua approaches that focus on restoring mana. Denise has a background in counselling with a focus on sexual violence.
Facilitator – Professor Tracey McIntosh MNZM (Ngāi Tūhoe) is Professor of Indigenous Studies and Co-Head of Te Wānanga o Waipapa at the University of Auckland. She has worked many years with incarcerated whānau, particularly with wāhine Māori, with a focus on addressing issues of poverty, inequality and social justice. She recognises the significance of working with those that have lived experiences of incarceration and marginalisation and acknowledges them as experts of their own condition. Tracey is the Chief Science Advisor to the Ministry of Social Development and is a Commissioner at the Criminal Cases Review Commission. She has previously taught in the sociology and criminology programme at the University of Auckland.