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July 17, 2017 | by  | in Politics |
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The Party Line

In April, four former wards of the state, Quentin Tuwhangai, Riwhi Toi Whenua, Eugene Ryder, and Hohepa Taiaroa, spoke to Mihingarangi Forbes on The Hui, detailing the physical, mental, and sexual abuses they and others had suffered while in state-run welfare homes. It is estimated that up to 100,000 children, most of whom were Māori, were taken from their homes into state care between 1950 and 1990. On July 6, a petition signed by over 5000 people was delivered to parliament, calling for the Minister for Social Development, Anne Tolley, to “set up a wide-ranging independent Commission of Inquiry into the historic sexual, physical, and emotional abuse of children in state care, to ensure these abuses can never happen again.” Should there be an independent inquiry?


Greens at Vic

Absolutely. Denying an independent inquiry would be an insult to the survivors of this grievous abuse and a complete rejection that anything can be learnt from our shameful mismanagement of state care. New Zealand owes these survivors full recognition and compensation for the abuse presided over by both Labour and National governments. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the systemic abuse of our most vulnerable. We have to demonstrate a clear rejection of this systemic racism and sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.

— Kayden Briskie


Young Nats — Lower North Island

Any kind of abuse against kids in state care is abhorrent. There is a system in place to assist those who have grievances. The Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (CLAS) was set up as an independent body and spent seven years listening and learning from people who came forward.

The Service provided more in the way of help than an inquiry would, helping people access old records, funding counselling sessions, and referring them to agencies for investigation. In 2015 the Government introduced a fast track process, enabling claimants to have their claim resolved faster while still receiving an apology and a financial settlement. As a result, the number of settlements has more than tripled, to over 1,400, all accompanied by an apology.

The new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, has taken on board the lessons learnt from CLAS. An independent youth advocacy service, VOYCE — Whakarongo Mai, has also been set up to ensure the voices of young people are heard.

— Sam Stead


In early July Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett finally admitted that systemic abuse of wards of the state occurred here in Aotearoa. Despite this, the current National Government has refused to make an official apology or launch an inquiry into how and why this was able to occur.

This physical, mental, and sexual abuse has had major, long-lasting impacts on people’s lives — as was evident in the recent documentary with Mihingarangi Forbes. It is only by understanding what occurred in the past that we can prevent such horrendous acts from occurring now and in the future. An independent inquiry would also be an important first step in helping survivors heal. Labour stands with these survivors, Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy, and more than 11,500 Kiwis who signed the “Never Again” open letter, in calling for an independent inquiry into the abuse of children held in state care.

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Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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