Former ward of the state heads to Parliament

Riwhi Toi Whenua was once a ward of the state, and now he's taking the state on - seeking justice for the thousands of children who, like him, were abused in state care.

Between the 1950s and 1980s 100,000 children were placed in state-run institutions and thousands were abused. But without an inquiry, it's impossible the quantify the number of damaged souls.

Toi Whenua, who was taken into care against the wishes of his family after his mother died of cancer, is one of many calling for an independent inquiry.

He has been in discussions with the deputy leader of the Labour Party, Jacinda Adern.

"She has promised me she will not rest until we get one. I take her word for that.

"As soon as she said that, I said, 'Shot - that's the end of the conversation.' I didn't want to go into anymore - she gave me that much, I'll go with that, so I trust her not to. She won't stop until she gets and inquiry, that's good enough for me."

Mr Whenua was one of four men who featured in The Hui's special broadcast 'Ngā Mōrehu', an account of the experiences of physical, sexual and mental abuse at the hands of the state.

He says sharing his story for the first time has been a healing experience.

"I feel the aroha and the support of all the people that are behind me, the ones who don't want to come forward and tell their story."

He says there's a power that comes from speaking out.

"It just does something to you - it just frees you from that shit."

Since his first appearance on The Hui, he has experienced a heartwarming reaction from strangers.

"You get hugs in the supermarket, it's nice, just randoms, mainly Pākehā. There's been a couple of Pākehā brothers that have come up shook my hand, give me the bro hug - it's been nice."

While Mr Whenua is beginning to heal, the people he's hurt in the past have also been in his thoughts.

"They are the victims, you know. We affected their lives in huge ways and you know a lot them would have hate towards us - not just them, their families their extended families, and you know for me that's a big thing.

"Sorry doesn't cut it, but just knowing that they are part of it, you know they are part of our healing and we can be part of their healing."

The Hui

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Email
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Viber Share to WhatsApp Share to Email