Kia ora koutou

Today is the one-year anniversary of the formal establishment of the Royal Commission (noting that the Terms of Reference were confirmed by the Government in November 2018).  This is a significant milestone and an opportunity to update you on our progress. Since the appointment of Commissioners in November 2018, progress has been made and the inquiry is beginning to take shape.

Values and Vision

The Royal Commission is about people, in particular children, young people and vulnerable adults, and their experiences of historical abuse and neglect in State care and in the care of faith-based institutions.  Commissioners have agreed the values of the Royal Commission will be:

  • Fairness and balance
  • Independence and determination
  • Transparency
  • Aroha.

Over the coming weeks we will test these to ensure they are appropriate in terms of their meaning for all stakeholders, in particular for Māori and Pasifika groups.

Commissioners have also established a vision for the inquiry.  They want to ensure that both the outcome of the inquiry and the process for engaging communities and survivors will transform the way care is provided to the most vulnerable people in our communities. 

The Royal Commission’s vision is: 

“Transforming the way we, as a nation, care for children,

young people and vulnerable adults in our communities.”


Commissioners are developing processes to ensure the inquiry is run fairly, impartially and in a manner responsive to what survivors tell us.  They acknowledge the critical importance of listening to the voices of survivors and their supporters.

A series of engagements with interested persons throughout the country has now begun and will continue over the coming weeks. The purpose of these is to gather feedback on how the inquiry should run and what it should cover.  They are a valuable way of informing Commissioners of the expectations of interested parties, and testing the approach the Royal Commission will take.

A number of public events involving Commissioners will also be held around the country in the near future.  We will share the details of these on our website and Facebook page when they are confirmed. 

Work programme

There will be a number of processes established for people to have their say directly to Commissioners; all have an equal standing in recording the experiences of abuse.

Commissioners will establish a private listening forum to hear directly from survivors and their whānau about their accounts of abuse.  Our expectation is that survivors will come forward and talk to Commissioners about their experiences.  

Groups of people (individuals and organisations) will also be able to provide evidence at public hearings.  Specific locations and venues around New Zealand are still to be confirmed.  These hearings may be ‘live-streamed’. 

In addition, Commissioners will hold round table discussions with key parties relating to specific themes that emerge.

It is a priority for Commissioners to ensure that survivors are safe at every stage of their engagement with the Royal Commission.  This includes providing counselling and other support services to people who need it. 

Terms of Reference

To many people, the Terms of Reference appear complicated or difficult to follow. The Commissioners are finalising an easy-read Terms of Reference “one pager”.  This will soon be shared publicly so people can see clearly and easily what it means and what is in, and out of, scope of the Royal Commission’s inquiry.

Advisory Groups    

Over the coming weeks and following engagement, Commissioners will make decisions about the composition and roles of Advisory groups that will provide advice to Commissioners.  We know this is critical to ensuring the collective voice of survivors is effectively heard and recognised.


On the Communications front, we will shortly be posting a calendar of key dates and events on our website, and Facebook, which will be continually updated.  This will ensure people are informed and can effectively follow the progress of the Royal Commission.

You can expect to hear more from us in the weeks ahead as key decisions are made.

Sir Anand Satyanand

Chair, Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in Care