Labour calls for state care abuse inquiry

Warning: Contains graphic content that may disturb some readers

Labour deputy leader Jacinda Ardern has called for an independent inquiry into historic claims of child abuse in state care. 

It follows an investigation by Three's Maori current affairs programme, The Hui, on which former wards of the state opened up for the first time about the abuse they suffered.

Quentin Tuwhangi was institutionalised when he was 12 years old. After trying to take his own life, the state picked him up off the street, and he says he thought things would change.

He said on his first night at a state institution he was beaten by older boys there. 

"I shat and pissed myself in pure fear," he said. 

He said not only was he subject to abuse, but had to watch others suffer the same fate. 

"A nine-year-old boy being held down and sodomised by a grown man - the muffled cries of that young man haunt me today."

Eugene Ryder was also picked up by the state when he was 11. He says he wet the bed on his first night, and after being teased by other boys was pulled away by staff. 

"I thought, 'Oh that was awesome,' and then he beat the shit out of me."

After running away one night he begged police not to take him back, but on his return he said the staff member he fled from abused him. 

These men were among more than 100,000 children placed into state facilities between the 1950s and 1990s. Many eventually landed in jail, but say it was better than being in the boys' home. 

Ms Adern is calling for an independent inquiry into the abuse. 

"These stories have been told bravely by individuals who have been in state care to prevent this from ever happening again, [and] until we hold that inquiry my concern is that it is still happening."