Julia Steenson, a lawyer of Ngāti Whātua and Waikato/Tainui descent, has been appointed as an Abuse in Care Inquiry Commissioner by the Governor General.

She takes over the commissioner role left by Judge Coral Shaw, who took up the position of Chair in late 2019 following the resignation of Sir Anand Satyanand.

Ms Steenson has worked across the finance and education sectors and is currently working in governance. She sits on the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust Board and chairs the health and wellbeing charity, Kia Puawai Limited.

Her previous work includes working as General Counsel for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, where she presented on Intellectual Property at the World Indigenous People Conference in Toronto and working in corporate and commercial banking in London and in Auckland.

On her appointment, Ms Steenson said “the Commission allows people with historical grievances the opportunity to be heard and to be acknowledged.”

“I am excited to be joining this significant Kaupapa and look forward to contributing to constructive outcomes.”

Abuse in Care Inquiry Chair Coral Shaw says the Royal Commission is delighted with the appointment of Ms Steenson.

“It is a great privilege to welcome Julia Steenson as a Commissioner,” Shaw said.

“Ms Steenson’s background and expertise in Te Ao Māori will be an asset to our work given that Māori are over-represented in current and historical care statistics.

“To ensure our recommendations are sound, we must fully understand the specific burden for Māori who have been in care, including the impacts on their whānau through the generations. Ms Steenson will give great strength to this work,” said Shaw.

Julia Steenson begins her new role at the Royal Commission on June 18.

The appointment of a sixth Commissioner has also been confirmed by Cabinet, with the role to be filled after September’s General Election.