National | Royal Commission

State abuse of Māori heard at Ōrākei marae

The voices of Māori survivors who were abused while they were in the care of state and faith-based institutions were heard at today’s opening of the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry Māori hearing.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has gifted the hearing the name “Tō muri te pō roa, tērā a Pokopoko Whiti-te-rā” to the occasions. It refers to hope and healing for survivors of abuse in care, after years of darkness.

Although the evidence that will be heard will be harrowing, Taiaha Hawke says the mana whenua, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, understands these issues.

"We are one of many iwi that has experienced oppression by the government. So, this issue, and the evidence that will be presented, we have experienced all those things."

Hawkes also says that it is only fitting that this difficult subject should be discussed in the whare of Tumutumuwhenua.

"This house is a safe place so the witnesses feel comfortable to share their stories, no matter how difficult it will be for them"

"The ancestors are there, their spirit is there, their words, their karakia will there in the house to protect them."

The royal commission will hear evidence from rangatahi survivors and multiple generations of whānau, and Māori survivors; and advocates will provide their vision of what a transformed care system should look like for Māori.

The hearing will explore how Māori in care were abused by the institutions meant to protect them. This included physical, sexual, psychological, and racist abuse. Māori who were deaf, disabled, LGBTQIA+ or of Pasifika descent were disproportionately affected.

Survivors of abuse were adamant about staging the hearing on the marae and counsel assist Julia Spellman says it's only right this was agreed to.

"What does by-Māori, for-Māori solutions look like in this space for the care system to protect tamariki and vulnerable adults?'