Tulou is a term commonly used in many Pacific languages to show courtesy when one comes within another’s personal space. It is used here to acknowledge the voice and personal space of our survivors and their families, while allowing us to listen and learn from their experiences. Tatala e pulonga is a Tongan metaphor meaning ‘lifting the dark cloud’. This metaphor is commonly used to demonstrate the lifting of darkness and in this context, a dark history of abuse in care.
The overall scope of the Pacific Investigation can be read here.
The Pacific Investigation team acknowledges the significant barriers and obstacles in coming forward to talk about abuse in care. The Pacific Investigation has a team of Pacific lawyers, investigators, well-being advisors and community engagement advisors available to support Pacific survivors and witnesses that wish to share their experiences.
There are different ways you can share your experiences; you can remain anonymous, you can decide who you would like to speak with and you are welcome to bring support people with you to interviews, meetings and the public hearing. Sharing your experiences with us will help the Inquiry make findings about what happened and appropriate recommendations for change.
If you have information you want to share about abuse in care please contact Tania.Sharkey@abuseincare.org.nz. Alternatively, please contact abuseincare.org.nz or 0800 222 727.
We recognise however that some people may prefer to speak to a lawyer outside of the Pacific Investigation team. You can speak to one of the lawyers on the legal assistance panel, here is a list of their details. To make an enquiry about legal assistance email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0800 222 727.
Survivors of abuse from the Pacific community gave evidence before the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry. Experts also give evidence. The public hearing opened with a traditional Pacific ceremony.
‘Tulou - Our Pacific Voices: Tatala e Pulonga’ is the first of its kind not only for New Zealand, but for Pacific survivors, Pacific communities and the wider Pacific region.
We know Pacific people were abused in the care of State and faith-based institutions between 1950 and 1999. The Royal Commission acknowledges the harm suffered by an individual Pacific survivor is not experienced alone and the effects can flow on to the rest of their community.
Part of the investigation is considering the impacts of the dawn raids on individuals and the wider Pacific community.
The public hearing is one part of the wider Pacific investigation. We are also conducting private sessions with survivors, reading written statements, and using research to help inform our reporting.
The public hearing is one element of the investigation. Survivors and other witnesses are also able to provide statements in private interview sessions or through written statements. While the public hearing hears a portion of a witness’s account, the Inquiry records and considers their entire evidential statement.
Associate Professor Hon. Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban DNZM QSO is a former New Zealand politician, of Samoan heritage. She became the country’s first female Member of Parliament of Pacific Island descent. Luamanuvao will provide contextual background on the migration of Pacific peoples to Aotearoa, lived experience of growing up in Aotearoa during the 1950s to present, her career experience in the community and Government, and insights into abuse and neglect of Pacific peoples in care.
Fa’amoana Luafutu came to New Zealand from Samoa when he was 8 years old. On the first day of school his teacher was unable to pronounce his name and told him that his name would now be ‘John’. Fa’amoana spent time in Owairaka Boys’ Home, Kohitere Boys’ Training Centre and other foster placements where he experienced abuse. He has told his story through theatre, writing, creative arts and music in the hope that sharing his experience through these mediums will help Pacific people in their own journeys.
Tigilau Ness is a first-generation New Zealand-born Niuean. A musician, political activist and member of the Polynesian Panthers, Tigilau will speak about his involvement in the social movement against the targeting of Pacific Islanders in the 1970s and 1980s and abuse of Pacific peoples while in State care.
Tesimoni Fuavao is a 66-year old man of Tongan descent. He and his family were dawn raided by the police in 1976. He will speak to the abusive treatment he and his family received, and the significant psychological impacts of the dawn raid which are far-reaching and still present to this day.
Mr CE will share his experience of migrating from Samoa with his family at a young age and his pathway into care following serious physical violence at home. Mr CE spent periods of time at Weymouth Boys’ Home, Hokio Beach School and Owairaka Boys’ Home where he experienced all forms of abuse. Samoan was Mr CE’s first language before he entered State care. Following State care, he could no longer speak Samoan and will describe the impacts of the loss of his cultural identity.
Ngatokorima Mauauri grew up immersed in both his Cook Island and Māori heritage. Very early in his life he was exposed to family violence and gang life which led to him spending periods of his youth in various State care placements including foster care, Whakapakiri, Dingwall Trust, and Weymouth Boys’ Home. He speaks about navigating Pacific and Māori cultures, gang life and the impact of the abuse he suffered in State care.
Joanna Oldham is of Tongan and Palangi descent. She was unaware of her Tongan ethnicity or culture growing up and speaks about the racism experienced within her family. Joanna shares her experience of sexual abuse by a Reverend of the Anglican Church, followed by placements in various care settings including family homes, foster homes, and State residences including Kingslea Girls Home where she experienced many forms of abuse.
Dr Seini Taufa is the Research and Evaluation Lead for Moana Research. At the University of Auckland she taught in the areas of Social, Community and Pacific Health. Dr Taufa serves in various advisory groups and will outline how Pacific ethnicities have been recorded since 1950, the inadequacies in ethnicity recording and the impacts of this on Pacific peoples in general.
Pulotu Solomon was a watchman at Owairaka Boys’ home in 1962, when he was 26 years old. He witnessed abuse and was told to stay silent. He is now 77 years old, and this is the first time he has publicly shared what he witnessed at Owairaka. He has come forward to support the voices of survivors. His daughter, Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i, will be reading his statement on his behalf.
Ms CU shares her experience of coming forward to the Catholic Church and the police about the abuse her relative suffered by a Catholic Priest. She describes the complexities of this disclosure within a Tongan cultural framework and the impacts this experience has had on her and her wider family.
William Wilson is a former student of Wesley College in South Auckland. He will speak to the ongoing physical abuse he received from prefects and senior students at the boarding school in the 1990s and the abuse he witnessed. William will describe the long-lasting impacts the abuse has had on him and his Samoan cultural identity.
Ms TU is of Samoan heritage. She was adopted out at birth and placed with a Palagi family. Ms TU shares her adoption story, the impacts of the disconnection from her Samoan heritage and cultural roots, and the abuse and neglect she suffered in her adoption placement.
Dr Sam Manuela is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland. Dr Manuela developed the first Pacific identity and wellbeing model. He will be providing his expert opinion on the links between cultural identity and wellbeing for Pacific people in New Zealand.
Antony Dalton-Wilson is of Samoan, Jewish, German and Gypsy descent. As a child, he suffered an accident that left him with a catastrophic brain injury. Antony will speak about the abuse he experienced at school and residences from teachers and other pupils, and his confusion and frustration at the way he was treated.
Rachael Umaga is of Samoan descent. She will give evidence about her experiences as a patient in psychiatric units in Wellington. Rachael will describe the lack of care she received, the on-going practice of over-medicating patients, and her concerns about the current model of care in psychiatric units. Her experiences in psychiatric care have impacted her significantly including her lifestyle, career and her health.
Leota Dr Lisi Petaia is the only Pacific forensic psychiatrist in the world. She will be providing her expert opinion on the importance of striking a balance between cultural and clinical approaches to care for Pacific patients in psychiatry.
Leota Scanlon, a 58-year old man of Samoan descent, was a patient at the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit. Leota will talk about the abuse he suffered at Lake Alice, including electric shocks, paraldehyde injections, physical abuse and seclusion. He will share the ongoing effects of this abuse on his life including his mental health, lack of education and his relationships with his family.
Mr TY is a Samoan male who was placed in Owairaka and Kohitere after running away from home at the age of 12. Mr TY ran away because of the abuse he was experiencing at home. He lived in a treehouse for three months before he was picked up by police and taken to Owairaka. Mr TY spent a lot of time in secure units and at the age of 60, is still haunted by the trauma he experienced in there.
Billy Puka Tanu is of Tokelauan and Māori descent. He talks about the key factors which led to him being placed in care, followed by his experiences of extensive abuse and differential treatment whilst in State care and in the care of the Salvation Army. He speaks to the long-lasting impacts of that abuse and shares his ideas for transformative change.
David Crichton (formerly David Mohi) spent around 17 years in care across numerous care placements. Only upon receiving his care files at the age of 30 did he discover his Samoan ethnicity and knowledge about his Samoan family. David speaks to the significant impacts resulting from the loss of his cultural identity, his experience of the Ministry of Social Development historical claims process and the difficulties in accessing his records from the various institutions who were responsible for his care.
Mr VT migrated from Samoa with his family in the 1980s. At primary school he came to the attention of the State due to physical violence in the home. Mr VT had many State care placements where he experienced different forms of abuse. Mr VT will speak to the circumstances leading to his entry into care, the abuse he experienced in care and the lasting impacts of that abuse.
Talanoa is a concept recognised in many Pacific island nations including Niue, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Hawai’i and the Cook Islands. Broadly speaking, talanoa usually entails inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue between all parties without a set format or structure.
The talanoa panels are intended to lay down the first strands of weaving in what is hoped, over time, will become sturdy baskets of knowledge in each area. There will be further opportunities for community engagement and discussion around these topics following the Pacific hearing.
The first talanoa panel will explore structural, systemic, and contextual factors that led to Pacific children and young people entering care. Some of the complexities around addressing these issues will be canvassed, as well as the potential for developing systems underpinned by Pacific values and experiences.
Facilitated by: Folasaitu Dr Julia Ioane
Dr Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni
Cabrini ‘Ofa Makasiale
Fuimaono Karl Pulotu-Endeman MNZM JP
Emeline Afeaki-Mafile’o MNZM
The second talanoa panel will open a discussion around redress. Panellists will explore ideas around what effective redress principles, processes and systems might look like for Pacific survivors.
Facilitated by: Helena Kaho
Dr Michael Fusi Ligaliga
Dr Jean Mitaera
Dr Siautu Alefaio-Tugia
Rupene Amato is of Samoan and Māori descent. He grew up in Wairoa and attended a Catholic primary school where he was sexually abused by a Catholic Priest. He talks about the impacts of this abuse and his work as an advocate for male victims of sexual abuse.
Folasaitu Dr Julia Ioane is a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor in Psychology at Massey University. She continues to work directly with Pasifika children and families involved in care and protection/youth justice matters in community and residential placements. Julia will discuss the themes shared by Pasifika survivors of abuse in care and provide a trauma-informed approach within a Pasifika cultural and clinical framework.
Photo credit: Haydn + Rollett