Warning: Much of the content presented at the hearing covers details of abuse. If this is difficult for you and you would like to talk to a support person, here is a list of some of the helplines or services that offer support, information and help.(external link)(external link)
Survivors of abuse from the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit will give evidence before the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry at an upcoming public hearing starting from Monday 14 June at 414 Kyber Pass Rd, Auckland (entrance from Kingdon st). Experts and institutional witnesses will also give evidence.
As part of the investigation into abuse in psychiatric care, the Inquiry is investigating what occurred at the Child and Adolescent Unit at Lake Alice Psychiatric Hospital in the 1970s.
The Inquiry will investigate what happened to children and young people at the unit, and why it happened. It will investigate what the Government, Police and professional bodies did to prevent and respond to abuse of children and adolescents in the unit.
Hake Halo is of Niuean descent. He and his parents came to New Zealand when he was six years old. He went to various primary schools, but he felt lost at school without knowing the language and he was put into a special class. After his father passed away, he got into trouble at school and was sent to Owairaka Boys Home. He was then admitted to the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit for nine months. The survivor’s evidence states that while at Lake Alice, he initially received ECT as a treatment and then received ECT as punishment when he remained conscious as electric current was delivered to his temples. A year after leaving Lake Alice, he was sent to Carrington Hospital. The survivor will speak about his experiences being at the centre of the 1977 Mitchell Inquiry. He will discuss the psychiatric and emotional consequences of his experience at Lake Alice and the impact on his relationships and ability to work.
Dr Sutherland was a founding member of the Auckland Committee on Racism and Discrimination (ACORD) and spent years campaigning and advocating on behalf of many children who were in State care during the 1970s and 1980s. Dr Sutherland will give evidence about how he first met a 13-year-old boy who had been in the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit. Dr Sutherland and fellow ACORD member Dr Ross Galbreath called for a Ministerial Inquiry, which resulted in the 1977 Mitchell Inquiry. ACORD contacted Members of Parliament, psychologists, and investigative journalists to make sure the New Zealand public were made aware of what was happening. He sent a telegram to the Minister of Health describing the allegations he had received from other adolescents at the unit as torture. Dr Sutherland will say the words and actions of ACORD, in drawing attention to the complaints of abuse, ensured that people in power in the 1970s could not say they did not know what was going on at the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit.
Mr Sutherland is a former employee of the New Zealand Police Department. He held various roles from 1965 until mid-1979, including tenure as a Juvenile Crime Prevention Officer (JCPO) and Youth Aid Officer in the Youth Aid division in the 1970s. Mr Sutherland will give evidence relating to the time he spent visiting Holdsworth Boys’ Home as a JCPO where he made attempts to raise concern over the referral process to Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit and the relationship between Holdsworth and Lake Alice.
Tyrone Marks is 60 years old and is of Māori (Ngāti Raukawa) and Italian descent. He was taken into care at the age of 8, and experienced serious physical, sexual and psychological abuse in multiple care settings. He spent around six months in Lake Alice over two admissions between 1972 and 1974. During this time, he encountered both modified and unmodified electroconvulsive therapy, paraldehyde injections, solitary confinement, and sexual abuse from fellow patients. The survivor will give evidence of the impacts of abuse, including his inability to pursue meaningful vocations due to his lack of education and admissions to Lake Alice. He will also speak about his experience in the Lake Alice redress process with Grant Cameron.
Rangi Wickliffe is 59 years old and of Māori Irish, Scottish and German descent. He was taken into care at the age of six, and was put into 13 foster homes within 12 months. During this time he was raped, sodomised and tortured. He was then sent to Owairaka Boys Home, and then Holdsworth School. He was raped and sodomised by two staff members at Holdsworth. He spent seven months in Lake Alice, in 1972 and 1973. While he was there he was raped, sodomised and tortured by both patients and staff members. At Lake Alice he received regular unmodified electro-convulsive therapy as well as paraldehyde administered to his buttocks, as well as when he was a resident at Holdsworth School. Following Lake Alice, he went through several more institutions before the State discharged him from its care. He will give evidence on his abuse, how it led him to repeated criminal offending, and the severe impacts it has had on his life. He also participated in the Grant Cameron redress process.
Mr Watson worked as a Housemaster at Holdsworth Boys’ Home from late 1972 until mid-1975. His evidence will discuss the relationship between Holdsworth and Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit, as well the process of referring boys to Lake Alice. Mr Watson will give evidence of complaints made by numerous boys about the use of electric shocks, unmodified electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) and paraldehyde injections at Lake Alice. Mr Watson will discuss his own complaint to the Department of Social Welfare head office and his impressions of the process and resulting action from that complaint.
Mr Doolan was Principal of Holdsworth School from 1973. He will give evidence about the relationship between Holdsworth and the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit – including the referral process, consent requirements, Department of Social Welfare oversite of State wards, reporting requirements, complaints of the unit in the 1970s, the cessation of referrals to the unit and other matters.
Kevin Banks is a 62-year-old survivor of Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit. He spent 24 months in the Child and Adolescent Unit over three admissions between 1973 and 1975. He also spent time in Epuni Boys Home. While at Lake Alice he experienced sexual abuse, drug abuse, physical abuse, psychological abuse, solitary confinement, paraldehyde injections and electroconvulsive therapy as punishment. Mr Banks will give evidence about his complaints to the Department of Health, Medical Council and Police, efforts to expose Dr Leeks’ behaviour, and involvement in the redress process with Grant Cameron. He will also give evidence about the impact of his Lake Alice experience on his health and life.
Walton Ngatai-Mathieson is a survivor of the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit. He was born in Ruatoria and is of Ngāti Porou descent. From the age of five he was blind in one eye and partially blind in his other eye. At age nine he was sent away from home to attend Homai College and was taught braille. He developed epilepsy and it became difficult for his grandparents to look after him. He was sent to Gisborne Hospital before being transferred to Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit in 1972 at age 12. He was admitted twice to the Child and Adolescent Unit for approximately six weeks and later 12 months. Mr Ngatai-Mathieson gives evidence about his experiences and the abuse he suffered, both sexually and physically, while at the unit and other State institutions.
Bryon (Nick) Nicol is a 59-year-old man of European descent. He spent six months in the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit in 1973. While there, he experienced sexual and psychological abuse, and electroconvulsive therapy as punishment. Mr Nicol will give evidence about the abuse he suffered at Lake Alice, about the abuse he suffered at other State institutions for children, and about the lasting impacts of that abuse on his physical and mental health.
Dr Parsonson will provide an overview of the use of Aversion Therapy (including chemical and electrical aversive stimuli), Operant Punishment and Electroconvulsive Therapy in standard clinical practice. He will also present an analysis that he has undertaken on the treatment of 11 child and adolescent patients at Lake Alice and his opinion on the inconsistencies between the procedures that these patients were subjected to and the treatment standards at the time for the use of Aversion Therapy, Operant Punishment and ECT.
Mike Ferriss, Victor Boyd, and Bruce Gibson will be giving evidence on behalf of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR). CCHR is a private organisation and was co-founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Dr Thomas Szasz (a professor of psychiatry). It describes itself as “a non-political, non-religious, non-profit organisation dedicated solely to eradicating mental health abuse and enacting patient and consumer protections.” In the 1970s, CCHR was involved with complaints about the treatment of children at the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit. Mr Ferriss, Mr Boyd, and Mr Gibson will be giving evidence about their experiences of the complaints process regarding the child and adolescent unit in the 1970s and their involvement with investigations of the unit in the decades since including supporting a complaint to the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
Donald Ku is 58 years old and of Ngāti Maniapoto and Tūwharetoa descent. He had two different admissions to Lake Alice, spending over two months in total in the Child and Adolescent Unit. During his first admission, he was one of the youngest patients in the unit. He was the victim of sexual abuse by staff members, physical abuse, and electroconvulsive therapy. He also received discriminatory treatment due to being Māori. He will give evidence about how severely his life was affected after Lake Alice, including leading to becoming a patched gang member by age 25. Mr Ku will also speak about his personal trauma, disconnection from his Māori culture, and the intergenerational impact of having his children taken into State care.
Alan Hendricks is a 59-year-old survivor of Lake Alice. He attended the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit between 1974 and 1975 where he was subjected to drug injections as punishment for misbehaving, as well as threats of electroconvulsive therapy. Mr Hendricks will give evidence about his pathway into Lake Alice and the aftermath of his experience there, including his involvement in the redress process as a claimant who was represented by Grant Cameron.
Fred Rawiri is a 60-year-old man of Māori descent who now resides in Australia. Prior to his admission to the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit, he was sent to Hamilton Boys’ Home and Hokio Beach School. Due to loneliness, he was given a psychiatric assessment and subsequently sent to Lake Alice. Here, he received electroconvulsive therapy to the head and genitals, and he received paraldehyde as punishment for misbehaving. Mr Rawiri will give evidence on his life after Lake Alice, including redress, coping with stigma and how his emotional trauma impacts his everyday life.
Ms CC is the partner of a Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit survivor who is now deceased. Prior to admission to Lake Alice, Ms CC’s partner experienced physical abuse by his carer, before being sent to Owairaka Boys Home, Hokio Beach School and Kohitere Boys’ Training Centre. Once at Lake Alice, he experienced sexual and physical abuse, electroconvulsive therapy and seclusion. On departure from Lake Alice, he was sent to Waikeria Borstal and spent time in and out of prison. He also applied for redress through Grant Cameron and Sonja Cooper. Ms CC gives evidence on what she knows of her partner’s early life and the impact this had on their relationship and family.
Sharyn Collis is a 62-year-old woman of European descent. She attended Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit between 1973 and 1974 where she experienced sexual and psychological abuse as well as seclusion and electroconvulsive therapy. She will give evidence about the circumstances which led to her admission to Lake Alice, impacts on her children and relationships and her experience of the redress process with Grant Cameron.
Amy Bethune is a 38-year-old woman of European and Māori descent. Her mother, Sharyn Collis, was admitted to Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit between 1973 and 1974. Ms Bethune will give evidence regarding her experience of the intergenerational impacts of her mother’s abuse in care, describing how it affected her schooling and health, and influenced the relationships she has with her mother and own children.
Malcolm Richards is a 61-year-old male who was admitted to the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit at age 15. Prior to his admission to Lake Alice, Mr FF suffered violence at home and had been sexually abused by a teacher at his primary school. Once at Lake Alice, Mr FF received electroconvulsive therapy on his head, body and genitals. He was a part of the Grant Cameron redress process in 2001 and has requested the Government hold an inquiry into Lake Alice. Mr FF gives evidence about the events leading up to his admission and the impacts on his later life such as being unable to work, and having memory and health difficulties.
Mr JJ is a 62-year-old male of Irish and Māori descent. He is a survivor of the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit and Cherry Farm Hospital. Around 12 years of age, Mr JJ was admitted to Cherry Farm Hospital where he suffered physical, sexual and psychological abuse as well as electroconvulsive therapy. Mr JJ was then sent to Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit where he was first put in a ward with adult psychiatric patients. He was then later kept in seclusion, sexually assaulted and given electroconvulsive therapy. Mr JJ will give evidence about how his experience at Lake Alice affected his relationships, employment prospects and educational opportunities.
Deborah Dickson is a 51-year-old survivor of Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit. She gives evidence about how a childhood illness led to her admission at Lake Alice at nine years of age. She describes the conditions in the unit, where she would be made to mix with adult psychiatric patients and was sexually abused. She explains the impact Lake Alice has had on her life including the relationships she has with her children and grandchildren, the stigma she has felt, and how it has impacted her relationships and trust in others.
Brian Stabb was a psychiatric nurse who worked in mental health for over 30 years. He originally trained in England before emigrating to New Zealand. Mr Stabb was a relief nurse at the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit for several months, before becoming a permanent staff member from mid-1974 to 1976. He will give evidence about the operation of the unit prior to his permanent transfer there, including a programme of aversion therapy. Mr Stabb will also give evidence about the changes to the unit he witnessed in his tenure, the treatments he witnessed or participated in, and the daily life of the residents in the unit.
Mr Cameron will give evidence about representing former Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit patients in litigation. In the 1990s and 2000s, Mr Cameron represented 95 Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit survivors in a class action lawsuit against the Crown. This resulted in a settlement agreement between the Crown and former Lake Alice patients. GCA Lawyers went on to represent other Lake Alice survivors in a further redress process, designed for survivors of the unit who had not settled.
Ms Barr worked as a hospital aid at Lake Alice Hospital. She started work in the geriatric villa before moving to the acute villa and then the Child and Adolescent Unit. Ms Barr gives evidence about her perspectives on the Lake Alice staff, the use of electroconvulsive therapy without anaesthetic on children and her experiences while working in the Child and Adolescent Unit.
Mr Hesseltine was employed as a psychiatric assistant at the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit starting in 1974 and ending in 1979. He discusses his role in the unit, and the daily routine and activities of patients and staff at the hospital. Additionally, Mr Hesseltine offers his recollections on witnessing different procedures, including what Dr Leeks told him was a procedure called “Ectonus therapy” as a behavioural modification therapy being used for child patients in the unit.
Dr Janice Wilson trained as a psychiatrist and was the Director of Mental Health between 1993 and 2000. She gives evidence about her time as Director of Mental Health and the limited experience she had with complaints made by former patients against Dr Leeks as well as litigation surrounding the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit.
Dr David Baron is a psychiatrist based in Melbourne, Australia. Dr Baron qualified in the 1960s, and in the early 1970s established and ran an inpatient psychiatric unit for children and adolescents in Sunnyside Hospital, Christchurch. Dr Baron will give evidence on how he operated his unit and the treatment methods used. He will also provide his own reflections on working as a psychiatrist in New Zealand during the 1970s and how medical practice then compares with contemporary standards.
Mrs LL is of European and Māori descent (Tūwharetoa, Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu). Sadly, Ms LL has passed away and her statement will be read by her daughter (Ms Y). Ms LL was sexually abused at the age of 12 and was admitted to Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit during the time she was at high school. Whilst at Lake Alice, Ms LL was threatened with electroconvulsive therapy, sexually assaulted, put in seclusion and stayed in a ward with adult psychiatric patients. She gives evidence about the impact of her abuse on her relationships and of the Police investigation on her mental health, as well as the economic impacts later in her life.
Ms Y is the daughter of Ms LL. She is of Tūwharetoa, Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu descent. Ms Y describes a difficult childhood, witnessing domestic violence and her parents’ drug and alcohol addictions. Ms Y moved to Australia with her mother at age 11 before leaving home and school when she was 13 years old, and returning to New Zealand. Ms Y will give evidence of the intergenerational impacts of her mother’s abuse at Lake Alice including a lack of childhood schooling, overcoming her own addictions and how her childhood has affected how she has raised her own children.
Mr AA is a 60-year-old man of Irish descent and survivor of the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit. Prior to admission to Lake Alice, he was physically abused in his family home, sexually abused by someone in his community, and spent time in Epuni Boys Home, Whatman Home, a Family Home and Kohitere Boys Home. He was sent to Lake Alice in 1975 and spent three months there. While at Lake Alice, he experienced psychological abuse, electroconvulsive therapy, and was given paraldehyde injections as punishment. After leaving Lake Alice, Mr AA was sent to Invercargill Borstal, and then spent most of his adult life in prison. Mr AA will also give evidence on the impacts on his children, and the redress processes with Grant Cameron and Sonja Cooper.
Charles Symes is a 63-year-old man and a survivor of the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit. He spent time in several state institutions growing up. These included Hokio, Epuni and Kohitere. He had two admissions to the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit. His first admission was in 1973 for six weeks; the second was in 1974 for one year. He was diagnosed with “hysterical character disorder” and was referred to Lake Alice by Social Welfare. Mr Symes gives evidence about the abuse he suffered at Lake Alice and the lasting impacts that abuse has had on his life.
Aleyna Hall is the Deputy Chief Executive of the Medical Council. David Dunbar is the Registrar of the Medical Council and has been employed as the Registrar since 2009. Ms Hall and Mr Dunbar will give evidence about how complaints are made, proceeded and dealt with by the Medical Council. Mr Dunbar will give evidence about the Medical Council’s records of the complaint received from a survivor in 1977 and the Medical Council’s decision to take no action against Dr Selwyn Leeks. Ms Hall and Mr Dunbar will also give evidence on the United Nations Committee Against Torture criticism of the Medical Council’s handling of a complaint.
Victor Soeterik is a registered clinical psychologist. He began work as a researcher and assistant clinical psychologist at Manawaroa in 1972 and began assisting at the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit in 1975. He discusses his role in the unit, which included helping to carry out psychological testing, observing group and individual therapy, and contributing to staff training. Mr Soeterik gives evidence about group therapy sessions, faradic shock treatment and the use of electroconvulsive therapy at Lake Alice.
Andrew Jane is a 57-year-old survivor of the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit. He spent time in a number of boys’ homes growing up. He was sent to Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit in 1976 after being caught running away from Holdsworth, although he was never formally admitted to Lake Alice. Mr Jane gives evidence about the abuse he suffered at Lake Alice and the lasting impacts that has had on his life, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Paul Zentveld is a 61-year-old survivor of the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit. He was admitted to the Child and Adolescent Unit five times between the ages of 13 and 15 where he was heavily medicated and routinely subjected to electroconvulsive therapy and seclusion. He will give evidence relating to his time at Lake Alice and the subsequent efforts he has made to seek justice for the wrongs he suffered as an adolescent. He was one of the claimants represented by Grant Cameron in 2001. He has also made various complaints to bodies such as the Victorian Medical Practitioners Board, ACC, the New Zealand Police, and the Whanganui District Health Board. Most recently, he took his complaint to the United Nations, and in 2017 he filed a formal complaint with the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT). The complaint, which alleged the New Zealand Government had failed to investigate the complaints of torture and ill-treatment against minors at Lake Alice, or hold any individual accountable, was upheld by UNCAT in 2019.
Detective Superintendent Thomas Fitzgerald will read a statement on behalf of New Zealand Police.
Malcolm Burgess is a former Assistant Commissioner of the New Zealand Police who retired from the Police in 2016. Mr Burgess will give evidence of the investigation he undertook into the complaints over the period 2006 through to 2010 and explain the decision-making process not to lay criminal charges in 2010.
Thomas Fitzgerald is a Detective Superintendent, the Director of the Criminal Investigation Branch and the most senior investigator in the New Zealand Police. Detective Superintendent Fitzgerald will give evidence about the Police policies and procedures in place from 2002 - 2010 during the Police investigation into complaints about the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit. This will include an overview of an investigation into historic allegations, and the relevant sexual assault investigation policies. As the only witness currently employed by and representing the Police at the public hearing, Detective Superintendent Fitzgerald will also give evidence about the previous 1977 police investigation and the work on the Lake Alice file following the 2010 decision not to prosecute, up until January 2020 when a new police investigation was launched.
Una Jagose QC is the Solicitor-General of New Zealand and the Chief Executive of the Crown Law Office (CLO). She was appointed Solicitor-General in February 2016 and has previously held other roles within CLO since 2002. The Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General are the two Law Officers of the Crown, which means they are responsible for legally advising the Crown and representing its interests in the courts. Ms Jagose will be giving evidence about the nature of the Solicitor-General's role, about CLO’s conduct during the litigation by Lake Alice survivors against the Crown during the 1990s and 2000s, about CLO’s engagement with the Police regarding Lake Alice, and about CLO’s role in the New Zealand Government’s responses to communications from the United Nations Committee Against Torture.