'Ngā Wāhine Mōrehu' - four women who survived abuse in state care

  • 10/09/2017

Warning: This video contains discussion of violent and sexual abuse against children.

Four women abused in foster care as children are adding their voices to calls for an inquiry into the scandal.

It is estimated around 100,000 children were removed from their families between the 1950s and 1990, the majority of them Māori. Thousands of them ended up suffering mental and physical abuse.

In April, four ex-wards of the state - all men - told their harrowing stories in a special episode of The Hui, 'Ngā Mōrehu' - which translates as 'the survivors'.

They included Quentin Tuwhangai, who witnessed another child "held down and sodomised by a grown man" and Riwhi Toi Whenua, who had "horrific, inhumane shit" done to him.

But their pleas for an official inquiry fell on deaf ears - the Government saying there was no need.

Undeterred, The Hui's upcoming 'Ngā Wāhine Mōrehu' reveals four more tales of physical and mental torture.

"I've been hit over the head with the blunt edge of a spade, the blunt edge of an axe. I've been locked up in dark cupboards," says Peal Putaranui, who wasn't told of her Maori and Chinese heritage - just that she was a "black bitch".

"I just got beaten until I pissed myself," says Gina Sammons. "You can't really point down which was the worst beating you got, because they were all pretty much pretty raw."

"The foster father used to masturbate in front of me," says Pamela Thompson, recounting the sexual abuse she was subjected to.

Hopes of inquiry lift

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley now believes there may be a case for an inquiry into historic abuse in state care.

It's a reversal from the Government's long-held position - that no inquiry was needed - and comes after allegations made on The Nation on Saturday of a Government cover-up.

"That would be horrendous to know that that happened - that the ministry was aware of abuse happening and looked to cover it up," Ms Tolley said.

Last week the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination recommended an independent investigation.

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy has backed calls for an inquiry, saying without one, just how it was allowed to happen will remain a mystery.

"Those who were responsible should be held accountable - we must learn from the past so we can ensure that this can never happen again."

"It would mean that we are all heard," says Ms Thompson.