State abuse: Apology may come from 'the highest level' - Tracey Martin

The new Minister for Children says if a Government inquiry reveals serious state care abuse, an apology would have to come "from the highest level".

The new Government's committed to holding an inquiry, but few specifics have been released so far.

In April an investigation by Three's The Nation revealed complaints abusers from several former social workers were ignored, or the offender moved to a different facility.

Since then, more victims have come forward with similar stories. The former National-led Government refused to hold an inquiry.

Minister Tracey Martin told The Nation details of the inquiry are still being worked through - but says an apology would be required if serious accusations come to light.

"I don't know whether it would be appropriate for a minister at my level, whether it should come from the Prime Minister, whether it should even be bigger than that.

"I think if we're going to take responsibility for what is going to come out in this inquiry - and we have a very clear idea of the sort of incidents that are going to be exposed - then it needs to be dealt with at the highest level."

Ms Martin says she can't commit to a Government apology - but from her own perspective, says "if we stand in our truth and we bravely say this is the reality that happened to these New Zealanders under the care of the state, then the state has a responsibility to acknowledge that, to own it".

"Therefore there should be an apology.

"If you put out the truth, there is going to have to be recognition by the state that this is what happened to these people and they were under the care of the state at that time.

"But if you're asking me if there are then going to be people that are charged or held accountable through the justice system, I can't make that statement because I'm not in charge of the justice system."

"At least 20 organisations" are being consulted before the proposal is brought before Cabinet.

"[An inquiry] will provide an opportunity for those who have been victims to come forward with comfort, to be able to express their truth, to be able to be validated in that truth and to feel that they have received the justice and the validation that they need.

"Those are the things that have been the driving part of the conversations at this stage."

A permanent watchdog over kids in state care is also being considered.

"An independent body whereby complaints can be taken I think would be a really good and transparent thing."

Ms Martin says the priority is establishing a basis for an enquiry within the first 100 days of Government - which end on February 4.