The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry Contextual hearing is returning today at 10am at the Rydges hotel in Auckland where Commissioners will hear from three witnesses. Witness evidence summaries are outlined below.

After witness speak, their full evidence, along with footage of them speaking, will available for download here.

The hearing is being live-streamed at:

Dr Oliver Sutherland

As one of the members of the Nelson Māori committee and the Auckland Committee on Race and Discrimination (ACORD), Dr Sutherland spent 15 years campaigning and advocating on behalf of many children who were in State care during the 1970s and 1980s. Based on extensive archival material from ACORD, Dr Sutherland will give evidence about

  • The structures (policing, arrest, courts, remand, sentencing) that funnelled young people into State care;
  • Structural racism and the differential outcomes for Māori children in the system;
  • Accounts of abuse in welfare homes, Lake Alice, and from children remanded to adult prison; and
  • Details of the campaigns, key reports and inquiries during this period to stop racist state violence against children.

Sir Kim Workman 

Ngāti Kahungunu, Rangitaane

Sir Kim Workman will give evidence about his early experience as a Police youth aid officer in the 1970s, and his subsequent work detailing the racial profiling of Māori and the disproportionate number of Māori in care. This included regular visits to Kohitere in the early 1970s and learning of the abuse, violence, and neglect that took place there.

Sir Kim will also speak to some of the legislative changes throughout the 1970s and 1980s in the area of children and youth justice, and the significant Puao-te-ata-tu report for which he was an advisor. Some of the proposed solutions, including the Matua Whangai programme, will be outlined and the barriers to reform to date will be explored.

Aaron Smale

Ngāti Porou, Ngā Puhi, Whakatohea

As a freelance investigative journalist and photographer, and with lived experience of state intervention having been adopted and raised outside of his natural whānau, Mr Smale has covered the stories of children in state custody as a Māori social issue. Since 2016 Mr Smale has collected stories from survivors and published stories in long-form articles, as well as analysis of various aspects. He is currently working on a documentary series on the subject and is a PhD candidate in history, researching the origins and impacts on Māori. Mr Smale will reflect on his work to date and the themes arising from the voices of survivors and expert and primary evidence obtained from his investigations, focussing on the state’s behaviour, international comparisons for indigenous children in state custody, and the impact on Māori in particular.

Media enquiries: Hannah Grant,; 027 298 2094