Many survivors emphasised the importance of a public apology – whether instead of or in addition to a personal apology – from the organisation concerned. They saw a public apology as validation of the abuse they had suffered and as an element of ensuring accountability for that organisation. Survivors expressed a wish for the most senior figures of the Crown to issue apologies, and for similarly senior figures of faith-based institutions to do the same. The same should also apply to the heads of indirect State care providers, that is, private, public or non-governmental organisations to which the State passed on its authority or care functions.
At our faith-based redress hearing, The Salvation Army, the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church made public apologies. By contrast, neither the Prime Minister nor any State institution has made any public apology (unlike leaders in other countries, such as Scotland and Ireland). Such an apology from the Crown, and the heads of relevant faith-based institutions and indirect State care providers, would be a symbolic counterweight to the years of denial of any systemic problem in care institutions. Where appropriate, we also consider particular groups, including Māori, should receive specific public apologies where those groups have suffered uniquely in some way.
10. The Crown and relevant faith-based institutions and indirect State care providers should publicly acknowledge and apologise for the tūkino inflicted and suffered, at an individual, community and national level, including:
- a public apology to survivors by the Governor-General, Prime Minister and heads of relevant faith-based institutions and indirect State care providers
- specific public apologies, where appropriate, to specific groups harmed, including Māori, either on this inquiry’s recommendation or that of the puretumu torowhānui scheme, or as a result of direct engagement with affected communities.
11. The Crown, Māori Collective, Purapura Ora Collective and relevant institutions should determine the content of public apologies and related matters, such as when and where they are made, in collaboration with survivors and in conformity with the principles of good apologies set out below in recommendation 33.
Next: Establishment of a new puretumu torowhānui scheme