Four former wards of the state share their horrific stories of abuse

  • 09/04/2017

Four former wards of the state have spoken out about the physical, mental and sexual abuse they endured.

They're only a few of the more than 100,000 children who were removed from their families between the 1950s and 1980s.

Many wards of the state, more than half of them Māori, suffered physical, mental and sexual abuse.

'Horrific, inhumane shit'

Quentin Tuwhangai told Three's The Hui some of the experiences will never leave his conscience.

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

"I had horrific, inhumane shit done to me," said Riwhi Toi Whenua.

Another survivor, Eugene Ryder, said the abuse has stayed under cover too long.

"There's a lot of shame. When I was in the home, there might have been 20 of us there and all 20 of us had gone through the same thing - but we wouldn't talk about it with each other."

Inquiry not on the cards

Earlier this year, Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy called upon the Government to hold an inquiry in the historical abuse of tamariki Māori in state care.

"An inquiry into the systematic abuse of this country? I think it's well overdue," said Mr Tuwhangai, who was institutionalised at age 13.

The Government has so far refused.

Labour has promised an inquiry, should it win this year's election.

"I commend the bravery of those men for speaking out," said deputy leader Jacinda Ardern.

"I condemn the National Government for denying the survivors of alleged State abuse to consider the wrongs that were committed and offer a better healing process.

Prime Minister Bill English told The Hui in March we already know what happened, so there's no need for an inquiry.

"We may not know exactly the scale, [but] the scale of it has been sufficient to warrant now fundamental change to how system works."

Ms Ardern says that view is "heartless and wrong".

"Potentially hundreds of children suffered mental, physical and sexual abuse while the state turned a blind eye, and continues to do so."

The Human Rights Commission has backed calls for an inquiry.

The four who spoke to The Hui call themselves ngā mōrehu - the survivors.

"Don't be ashamed - be proud of who you are," says Mr Tuwhangai. "It's not your fault - it's okay not to be okay."

Watch the video for the full story from The Hui.