Quick Exit

Ngāti Whātua welcomes Royal Commission staff onto Ōrākei Marae at the powhiri for the Māori public hearing.

Māori survivors heard

Kei ngā purapura ora me ō koutou whānau i whakatakoto kōrero ki mua i te aroaro o te Kōmihana i ngā wiki kua tata nei, e mihi ana te ngākau ki a koutou katoa. I māia katoa koutou ahakoa te uaua o te kōrero. I puta anō hoki tō koutou aroha me ō koutou tūmanako mō ngā tamariki e noho ana i raro i te korowai manaaki o te Karauna.
E kore e e mimiti te mihi me te aroha ki ngā poupou kōrero o te wā. 

The voices of Māori survivors who were abused in the care of State and faith-based institutions were heard loud and clear across Aotearoa New Zealand from 7 to 18 March.

The Māori public hearing was held at Ōrākei marae in Tāmaki Makaurau. While closed to the public, because of the Covid outbreak, the entire hearing was shown live on the Royal Commission’s website.

Commissioner Julia Steenson, who chaired the hearing said: “Despite the challenges of Covid, the hearing went ahead, as was the wish of our survivor witnesses.

“All of Aotearoa New Zealand needs to listen to the evidence of these courageous witnesses, so that we understand the impacts of the abuse of Māori in care and hear their ideas for change.”

The themes that came through strongly in the witnesses’ evidence was the failure of the State to care for these young ones who were placed in its care, and the ongoing harm the abuse has caused generations of whānau Māori.

Several talked about their experiences being a spiral “from State care to gang life and prisons”.

If you missed the live online hearing, you can go to the Royal Commission’s website to watch the recorded evidence,  or click on individual survivor witness evidence below. 

View the evidence of the courageous witnesses

Day 1 - Monday 7 March 

Powhiri and opening statements

Tupua Urlich is from Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga. He was taken into State care from five to 15. View evidence

Ihorangi Reweti-Peters is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa descent. He was placed in State care as a small child. View evidence

Day 2 - Tuesday 8 March 

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. View evidence

Glenda Maihi is of Te Arawa descent. She was placed into foster care from the age of five. View evidence

Day 3 - Wednesday 9 March

Ms AF has Sami, Navajo, Aboriginal and Māori – Ngāti Tāhinga me Whakatōhea – whakapapa. She was placed in the care of a Pākehā adoptive family and in the care of Catholic institutions. View evidence

Ms AE was adopted from a young age and experienced physical, sexual and emotional abuse from her adoptive parents. View evidence

Day 4 - Thursday 10 March

Tumohe Clarke is a descendant of Ngāti Haua and Ngāti Koroki Kahukura. He shared his experience of abuse in State care, also those of his siblings who have passed on.  View evidence

Ms NN shared her lived experiences of abuse in State care and social worker neglect. View evidence

Day 5 - Friday 11 March

Hohepa Taiaroa is from Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Kahungunu ki Heretaunga. He discusses how institutional racism led to the deprivation and loss of his language, culture, identity and name. View evidence

Te Aroha Knox is of Waikato-Tainui and Ngāpuhi descent. She came into care at the age of 10 because of abuse at home. She experienced abuse and social worker neglect.  View evidence

Karanui whānau The late Kuini Karanui wanted her story shared in the hope it helps the Government better understand how to look after our tamariki today. View evidence

Day 6 - Monday 14 March

Paora Sweeney grew up in a loving family but suffered the trauma of losing his parents, He ended up in State care. View evidence

Wiremu Waikari is of Ngāti Porou descent. He speaks about being adopted, being placed in child welfare and State care. He discusses the abuse he suffered in these settings. View evidence

Day 7 - Tuesday 15 March

Harry Tutahi was taken into care as a young child and spent time in many State facilities. View evidence

Waiana Kotara is of Māori and Scottish descent. She shared her experiences of abuse before, during and after being placed in State care. View evidence

Rev. Dinah Lambert is of Ngāti Kahungunu descent. She and her siblings were placed into care at a young age. She has been an ordained Priest of the Anglican Church for many years. View evidence

Day 8 - Wednesday 16 March

Mr MM experienced abuse before being placed in care. He spent time at Ōwairaka, Oakley Hospital, several foster homes and Waikeria Borstal. He suffered significant abuse in care. View evidence

Natasha Emery focused her kōrero on her and her late brother’s childhood and adolescence. View evidence

Day 9 - Thursday 17 March

Harris whānau – Te Enga, Joyce, Mereani, Stuart are of Māori descent, with all put through the State care system. View evidence


Investigating disability and mental health care in Aotearoa

On 11 July 2022 the public hearing for the disability and mental health investigation will begin.  At this hearing the Commissioners and New Zealand public will hear the experiences of disabled survivors, as well as those who were placed in psychiatric care. The accounts and evidence captured during this hearing will be used by the Commission to inform the disability and mental health interim report.  

Working directly with the communities

During the remainder of the year the disability and mental health investigation are holding a series of community consultation events for feedback on the development of its interim report.  Throughout this process we will be regularly meeting with members from the Blind, physically disabled, Autistic, learning disability, mental health and Deaf communities.  These are opportunities to learn about each community’s priorities in terms of care and will feed through into the recommendations made in the disability and mental health interim report.

Chief Advisor – Disability and Mental Health appointed to Commission’s senior leadership

Welcome to Lorna Sullivan the new Chief Advisor – Disability and Mental Health. This is a senior leadership position that will be key to bringing the experiences and strategic views of the New Zealand disability and mental health sector to the Commission’s work. 
There is more information on our website about the disability and mental health investigation, and we will keep you updated on the hearing.

Disabled people’s experiences of abuse in care

State and faith-based disability care settings


Traditional mats at the Tulou: Our Pacific Voices public hearing

An update from the inquiry into Pacific people's experiences

Alex Leulu, team leader for the inquiry into Pacific people’s experiences of abuse in care gave an update.

“This year our focus is on delivering a report on Pacific people in care at the end of 2022. For the past two years we have been gathering information by meeting with survivors, listening to their experiences and preparing for our public hearing Tulou: Our Pacific Voices – Tatala e Pulonga, last July. Aotearoa heard for the first time from Pacific survivors who spoke up bravely, and loss of cultural identity, racism, and deep intergenerational impacts were some of the key themes. We were so grateful that we were able to hold this hearing in person, in the community at the Fale o Samoa.

We have also been gathering information through fono in the community to ensure that Pacific voices are at the centre of this report. We have met with Pacific youth and Pacific youth with experience of being in care, workers supporting Pacific peoples in care, workers supporting Pacific disabled peoples with more fono planned.  We have been listening to their experiences and ideas about transforming the way we provide care. If you would like to know more there is an email address set up for the fono which is talanoa@abuseincare.org.nz. “


Aerial image showing Marylands School and St Joseph's Orphanage

Marylands School investigation continues

Throughout the rest of this year we are continuing the investigation into abuse in the care of the Catholic Church, including investigation into abuse by the St John of God brothers at Marylands School, St Joseph’s Orphanage and Hebron Trust.
With the Marylands School/St John of God public hearing now completed, all written and video witness evidence is uploaded on our website.
You can find links to the witness evidence from the Marylands School public hearing page here:


Media coverage of the Māori public hearing

Despite an unusually busy news cycle, with the Omicron outbreak and Ukraine crisis, the Māori public hearing was covered widely by mainstream, Māori and iwi networks. Every day, the New Zealand Herald, Stuff and Radio New Zealand covered the heart-rending evidence of survivors. Here are some of the TV, radio and print stories:

Stuff | Kuini o te maunga - The path out of survivors of State abuse. Read here

Stuff | A state of denial and the ongoing impact of generations of damage.

Read here  This is an article by investigative journalist Aaron Smale, reflecting on the damage done to generations of Māori who went through state institutions as children.

Radio NZ | Royal Commission Inquiry on abuse to hear Māori care stories. Read here  Midday Report. Includes seven minutes audio of interview with counsel assisting Julia Spelman 

New Zealand Herald | Abuse in care: Young boy ripped from whānau into life of abuse, neglect. Read here.

Radio NZ (Checkpoint) | Abuse in Care Royal Commission hears of young Māori being torn from their families. Listen here.

Radio Waatea | Māori abuse in care hearing goes online. Read here. Includes audio interview with counsel assist Julia Spelman.

Stuff | 'I was a child at the mercy of a monster': Survivor of abuse in state care launches royal commission's Māori hearing. Read here. Includes Māori hearing video.

Newshub, Three 6pm News| Māori hearing of inquiry into historical abuse in state care begins with two youth survivors' evidence. See video here.

ONE News, 6pm News | Māori victims share horrific details of abuse in state care. See video here.

New Zealand Herald | Māori abuse in state care: Five siblings forced into a life of horror. Read here.

Waatea News | State care system – a monster of abuse. Read here.

Stuff | ‘We felt like we were invisible’ – Five Waikato siblings’ abuse in care. Read here. With Māori hearing video.

Newstalk ZB | Abused Māori siblings believe they wouldn’t have been treated ‘like a number’ if they were Pākehā. Read here.

Māori TV | Inquiry into state abuse must be extended - teen survivor. Read here. With video.

Māori TV | 'A life of horror' tamariki Māori describe abuse by state. Read here.

Newshub | State abuse inquiry: Loss of identity, whānau, whakapapa worst effects of state care - Māori survivor. Read here.

Stuff | Abuse in Care: State falsified woman's birth certificate, erased Māori identity. Read here. (Printed in many regional papers)

Radio NZ Morning Report | Māori in state care used as slave labour unable to go to school. Read here. With audio.

Radio NZ Checkpoint| Adoption practices under scrutiny at Abuse in Care Royal Commission. Read here. With audio.

Radio NZ | Lack of identity a lifelong pain, says wahine abused by adoptive family. Read here.

NZ Catholic | “Great shame and sorrow” over abuse of Māori in Church care. Read here.

Stuff | 'I don't want their voices silenced': Last surviving sibling speaks at Abuse in Care hearing. Read here.  Also published in regional newspapers, Waikato Times, Taranaki Daily News.

Newshub | Māori woman tells Royal Commission her birth certificate was changed to Caucasian to help with adoption. Read here.

Radio NZ Checkpoint| Social workers' racism amplified abuse of rangatahi in care. Read here. With audio.

ONE News | Embracing Māoritanga helping state care abuse survivors heal. Read here.

Stuff | State care 'just prepared me for prison really,' man tells Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry for Māori. Read here. Also printed in regional newspapers, including Waikato Times.

Radio NZ | Abuse in care inquiry: Boys’ home ‘beginning of my criminal career’. Read here.

Waikato Times | ‘I don’t want their voices silenced’. Read here.

Stuff | Broken, beaten, and bred for gangs – state care abuse survivor’s struggle to break the cycle. Read here.

Māori television, Aukaha | Interview with hearing survivor witness Tumohe Clarke. Watch here.

Radio NZ | Royal Commission told system created hardened criminals. Audio here.

Stuff | 'I learned not to show weakness': A childhood in State care. Read here.

New Zealand Herald | Abuse in Care: Victim still lives in a state of hypersensitivity to abuse and threats. Read here.

Stuff | Abuse in Care: Effects of state failures echo down generations, inquiry hears. Read here.

Stuff and Dominion Post | Harrowing tale inside state care. Read here.

Stuff | One family’s intergenerational fight to escape abuse in State care and return home. Read here. With Māori hearing video.

Hawkes Bay Today, also NZ Herald website | Abuse in care: Teenager of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa descent gives evidence. Read here.

Te Hiku media| Māori hearing for abuse in care (interview with Te Aroha Knox). Listen here.


Media coverage of the Marylands School public hearing

Also, there was significant nationwide media coverage of the Marylands School public hearing. Here are links to some of the stories, TV and radio coverage. 

Stuff, Christchurch Press | Abuse in care inquiry: Survivors to tell of horrific abuse suffered at Christchurch Catholic school

NZ Herald | Royal Commission hearing into St John of God abuse at Marylands School opens 

TVNZ ONE News | Catholic church abuse survivor says he 'adapted' to abuse with video

TV3 Newshub | Marylands School child sex abuse survivor says he was shown corpse to stop him speaking out with video

Radio NZ | Marylands School: Many who chose to cover up abuse complicit in 'evil', advocate says 

TV3 Newshub | Marylands School survivor's upsetting message as Catholic leader apologises for 'indefensible' child sex abuse with video

Radio NZ | Marylands child abuse 'cause of deep shame and sorrow' for Catholic Church - Archbishop 

Stuff, Christchurch Press | 'Masters of cover-up': Witness says St John of God tried to shut victims down when abuse allegations emerged with audio

Otago Daily Times | Christchurch abuse survivor wants 'genuine apology' and confirmation of change

Stuff, Christchurch Press |  Abuse in Care: Marylands abuse was "horrific and indefensible", says head of St John of God order

TV3 Newshub | Marylands School survivor's upsetting message as Catholic leader apologises for 'indefensible ' child sex abuse  with video

Radio NZ |  Marylands School abuses like open slather in butchers shop

Stuff, Christchurch Press | 'A state supported church-run brothel’: Catholic Church’s claims of shame slammed by abuse survivors 

Radio NZ | Marylands School abuse in care inquiry hearing final submissions

Radio NZ | Survivor tells Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care how alcohol 'eased the pain' 

Radio NZ | Archbishop accepts Catholic Church needs to take responsibility for historical abuse

NZ Catholic newspaper |Marylands-darkest-chapter-in-nz-catholic-churchs-history

So far, over 900 survivors have shared their experience. Join them. Ā mohoa nei, neke atu i te 900 purapura ora kua kōrero mai i ō rātou haerenga. Hono mai.

We cannot make any findings, reach conclusions or make recommendations without hearing the voices of those who have the lived experience of state or faith-based care.

Share your experience Kōrerotia mai tō wheako