Government responds to Royal Commission report showing 250,000 Kiwis abused in state care

The Minister for the Public Service has described the scale of child abuse in New Zealand as "inexcusable", after it emerged a quarter-of-a-million kids had suffered as a result of the state's failings over the last 70 years.

A report from the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care, released to the public on Wednesday morning, revealed 250,000 Kiwi kids had been abused in state and faith-based care between 1950 and 2019.

It shows that of 655,000 children in care during the period, an estimated 40 percent had been abused. The rate of abuse peaked in the 1970s, with as many as 48,000 victims exploited in that 10-year period.

Speaking on behalf of the Government, Chris Hipkins acknowledged the report's findings and praised the bravery of victims who'd recounted their abuse in hearings over the last few weeks.

"I welcome this interim report, and I acknowledge the courage and determination of survivors who re-lived their painful experiences with the Royal Commission," he said.

"The report is a difficult read, and shows the enormity of abuse and trauma that has occurred. The hurt and anguish that has been caused in New Zealand's history is inexcusable.

"All children in the care of the state should be safe from harm, but as the testimony sets out all too often the opposite was true. We need to acknowledge these past wrongs and learn from them."

Hipkins says the Royal Commission will make recommendations to the Government in a final report, which will be based on what it learned throughout its Abuse in State Care Inquiry.

Any recommendations will likely include improvements to New Zealand's care-and-redress systems, which were criticised by some abuse victims during the inquiry.

The Government has committed to carry out work on a range of problem areas raised by survivors, including looking at possible options for a centralised claims process and considering reforms to how the Limitation Act is used.

"Survivors have told us they find it difficult to navigate the different redress processes operated by state agencies, and we are exploring whether a single entry-point is possible for historic claims," Hipkins said.

"The Limitation Act, which sets time limits on recognising civil claims against the State, has been used to deny claims in Court, and we are already looking into how the Act might be applied in future for historic abuse claims.

"The redress principles outlined by the Royal Commission in this report will help us progress these actions and the Government will continue to listen and learn from the experience of survivors."