Abuse in care: Survivor says Oranga Tamariki's current system still places children in unsafe environments

The Ministry for Children - Oranga Tamariki - is the latest Government agency to front at the Royal Commission hearing looking at abuse in state care from 1950 to 1999.

But a survivor of abuse said the organisation needs to acknowledge its present system still places children in unsafe environments. 

Tupua Urlich was five years old when he and his sister were torn away from everything they had known.

Separated from his family, the state placed him in the care of an abusive man.

"You take me away from my whanau and place me with someone who beats me nearly every single day. I missed so many days of school because of the bruises and black eyes he'd leave me with," Urlich said.

Urlich is among the youngest to give evidence at the Royal Commission hearings looking into abuse in state care. 

On Monday, the organisation which failed him acknowledged its faults.

"We cannot divorce ourselves from our past," Oranga Tamariki chief executive Chappie Te Kani said.

Te Kani said the system between 1950 and 1999 didn't have adequate policies, processes, and practices in place to detect and help survivors report abuse.  

"It's important to note, however, that the way the state provides care for tamariki and rangatahi has changed significantly over time."

But Urlich disagrees.

"It's still happening and to hear it be spoken like it's passed is concerning."

Oranga Tamariki concedes that in previous years the system favoured removing children from whanau instead of supporting families.

The state agency said it's changed its focus in the last five years, now including whanau, hapu, and iwi support. 

But it added there's room for improvement in addressing the wider problems families have in caring for children.