Ko Taranaki tōku maunga
Ko Mimihau tōku awa
Ko Tokomaru tōku waka
Ko Ngāti Mutunga me Ngāti Tama ōku iwi
Ko Urenui tōku marae
Ko Dorothy rāua ko Neville Baker ōku mātua
Ko Melanie Baker au
Ko au te roia mo te Karauna
Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa
E mihi ana ki a koutou ngā Kaikōmihana mō tēnei āheinga ki te kōrero mō tēnei hui whakarewa i ngā wheako Māori e pā ana ki ngā mahi tūkino i a rātou e noho ana i roto i ngā manaakitanga a te Karauna.
Kei ngā mōrehu – E mihi ana ki tō koutou kaha me tō koutou māia ki te tū mai ki te kōrero i ō koutou wheako ki te Kōmihana. Ka mihi anō hoki ki ngā rāngai mōrehu me ō koutou whānau, kaitautoko hoki i noho hei taituara mō koutou.
Ko te aronga whānui a te Karauna ki ngā whakaritenga o te Kōmihana, he whakarongo me te ako, mai i a koutou ngā mōrehu, ō koutou hapori me ngā kaiārahi e pā ana ki ō koutou wheako i roto i ngā pūnaha manaaki a te kāwanatanga ahakoa i roto i ngā whakaritenga o te tari o te ora, mātauranga, hauora me te whaikaha hoki rānei.
E mārama ana te Karauna ki te mana o tō reo. He āheitanga tēnei uiui me tēnei hui ki te pōhiri i tēnei wāhanga taumaha o te hītori o tō tātou motu.
Ko taku mahi he noho hei māngai mō ngā pokapū Karauna ka whai wāhi mai ki tēnei hui whakawā. Ko ngā pokapū ka tāpiri mai ko Te Manatū Whakahiato Ora, Oranga Tamariki, Te Manatū Hauora, Te Tāhūhū o te Mātauranga, Ngā Pirihimana o Aotearoa me Te Puni Kōkiri. Kei konei hoki ngā māngai mai i ēnei pokapū huhua e whakarongo ana ki ngā kōrero. Arā noa atu te nui o ngā tari kāwanatanga ka hono mai ki te whakarongo mā te tukuarorangi.
Kei tēnei hui hoki ngā māngai mai i te Karauna Whakarata hei whakahaere i ngā tikanga a te Karauna i roto i tēnei uiuinga. Apiti atu ki te noho a te Karauna Whakarata, he āta whakarite i te āheinga e whai wāhi atu ki ngā kōrero o mua, ā, me te whai wāhi mai o ngā pokapū kāwanatanga ki te tautoko mai i te Karauna.
Kei te kaha tautoko ahau i ngā mihi ki te taha o te Karauna i te Uiui whawhati tata a Te Rōpū Whakamana i te Tiriti o Waitangi, arā, e whakaatu ana i ngā take e whiriwhiritia nei e mātou mohoā nei.
Kotahi atu te aro o ngā uiui ki ngā take pāhikahika, arā i te nui o ngā tamariki kei roto i te pūnaha manaaki, ka mutu, e arotahi ana ki te wā mai i te tau, rua mano, tekau mā rima (2015), haere ake nei. Āpiti atu ki tēnei, e whāki ana te Karauna kāore mātou i aro ake ki ngā whakaaro Māori me ngā rongoā ki ngā pae o te pūnaha mānaaki.
I te tau kotahi mano, iwa rau, waru tekau mā ono (1986), ka puta te rīpoata o Pūao-Te-Ata-Tu ki mua i te aroaro o te Karauna. I te Rōpū Whakamana i te Tiriti o Waitangi i whakaae te Karauna ki tō rātou ngoikoretanga ki te āta whakaū i ngā whakahau ki te taumata e tika ana. Nā taua hapa i mate ai ko ngā hua mō ngā tamariki Māori, whānau, hapū, iwi hoki. Nā tēnei āhua kāore te Māori i whakapono ki te Karauna tae noa ki te angitū o te Karauna ki te whakatikatika i ngā whāwhārua.
I whakaae anō te Karauna i te whakaaro he kaikiri te āhua o ngā whēkau o te pūnaha manaaki, ā, ka mate ko ngā tamariki Māori, whānau, hapū, iwi hoki. Nā wai, nā wai, nā ngā ture, kaupapa here me ngā pūnaha i tino wehe ai te whanaunatanga i waenganui i te iwi Māori me te Karauna.
I tua atu i tēnei, ahakoa he hārakiraki te āhua o ngā kōrero i kohia i ngā rā o mua, ā, tae noa ki ngā tikanga mauhanga tuakiri tangata rerekē ā-tari i roto i ngā tau, ā, e mārama ana te kitea, nō waenganui i te rautau iwa tekau te iwi Maori e noho pāhikahika ana i roto i ngā tatauranga, ā, kua rongo hoki i te utu o ngā mate nei. E rongo tonu ana ngā iwi, hapū me ngā whānau i ngā mate moroki kua whakairotia ki te ngākau. I whāki te Karauna i te Uiui whawhati tata a Te Rōpū Whakamana i te Tiriti o Waitangi te tau pāhikahika o ngā tamariki Māori e uru me te noho ana i te pūnaha manaaki. Kāore te Karauna i whakaae ki ēnei āhuatanga. E whakaae ana te Karauna me pūmau tāna noho ki te whakatika i tēnei tōrite kia eke ki tā te Te Tiriti o Waitangi i whakahau ai.
Kua oti he rīpoata motuhake e Ihi Research i runga i te whakahau a te Karauna Whakarata hei taunaki i tēnei whakatewha. Ko te whakaaro ia, kāore i tua atu i tēnei ripoata mō te arotake i ngā wheako Māori mō te manaaki a te Kāwana, he whānui atu ngā kōrero tautoko, me ngā whakakitenga a ngā kaimahi i roto i te pūnaha, e whakamana nei i ngā whakataunga kua kōrero kētia e au. Ka matapaki anō hoki te rangahau nei i te whānuitanga o tēnei kaupapa me ōna take huhua. He mea nui tēnei ripoata e mātai ana i te wheako o te hunga i whakawhiua e ngā kaupapa here i whakamātautia e te Kaurauna i roto i ngā tau.
Ko ō matou tūmanako, mā tēnei hui e rewa ake ai he tūāpapa mō ngā mōrehu ki te kōrero i ō rātou ake kōrero pono e huri ai te tai.
Ka āta whakarongo te Karauna. E mārama ana mātou ki te nui o tēnei uiui me te manawanui o te Kōmihana ki te wherawhera i ngā kōrero i raru ai ngā tamariki, taiohi me te ngā rangatahi popore, inā rā, he nui tonu ngā Māori e tiakina ana e te Kāwana, me ngā Hāhi o Aoteroa. Ko te ripoata tārewa a te Kōmihana mō te whakaora, arā, He Purapura Ora, he Māra Tipu hei tohu i ētahi tikanga e pai ake ai te whakamātau i ngā mahi.
Ko ngā kōrero a ngā mōrehu kei te whakahau i ngā tikanga e pai ake ai ngā pūnaha Kāwana ki te aukati i ngā mahi tūkino, me te whakarite hoki he huarahi hei whakaea i ngā whakaaro o te hunga i tūkinotia. E oati ana mātou ki te noho pūmau ki ngā mōrehu me te whakarerekē i te āhua o ngā mahi.
Hāunga ngā hui o mua, kāore te Karauna e rapū ki te uiui i ngā mōrehu me te tuku pātai ki ngā mōrehu mā ngā rōia.
Hei whakakapi i tēnei kōrero wāhi, ka mahara ake ahau mō te whakataukī e whai ake nei hei whakamana, hei kōkiri hoki i te matū o ngā whakaaro o te Karauna i roto i tēnei hui.
Whakapūakihia tō reo ngū.
Whakamahua te mamae.
Whakaorahia tērā i ngaro.
Mai i te pōuriuri ki te ao mārama, me tū pakari, mārohirohi me te ngākau titikaha.
On behalf of the Crown thank you to the Commissioners for this opportunity to make an opening statement for this hearing into the Māori experience of abuse in care.
To the survivors – I would like to acknowledge your courage and your strength in coming forward to tell your experiences to the Royal Commission. I also acknowledge the mahi of the survivor groups and your whanau and supporters who have stood with you and helped you.
The Crown’s approach to the Royal Commission of Inquiry overall, is to listen and learn from you, the survivors, your communities and leaders about your experiences with the state care system be it in social welfare, education or health and disability settings.
The Crown recognises the paramount importance of your voice. The inquiry and this hearing are an opportunity for the Crown to confront a very difficult part of our history as a nation.
My role is to represent the Crown agencies who engage with this hearing. These agencies include the Ministry of Social Development, Oranga Tamariki, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the New Zealand Police and Te Puni Kokiri. Representatives of many of these agencies will also be present to listen to the kōrero. Many other government agencies will be listening through the livestream.
Also present at the hearing are representatives from the Crown Response overseeing the overall Crown response to the Inquiry. The Crown Response’s role includes ensuring that the Royal Commission has access to the historical information and other support it needs from State agencies.
I wish to reinforce the acknowledgements made on behalf of the Crown at the recent Waitangi Tribunal Oranga Tamariki Urgent Inquiry, which reflects issues that we are grappling with to this day.
That Inquiry addressed claims concerning the disproportionate number of tamariki Māori in the care and protection system, with a focus on the period from 2015 onwards. As part of it the Crown acknowledged that historically Māori perspectives and solutions have been ignored across the care and protection system.
In 1986, the Crown received the landmark report Puao-Te-Ata-Tu. At the Waitangi Tribunal the Crown acknowledged the failure to fully implement the report’s recommendations in a comprehensive and sustained manner. That failure has impacted outcomes for tamariki Māori, whānau, hapū and iwi. It has undermined Māori trust and confidence in the Crown, and confidence in the Crown’s willingness and ability to address disparities.
The Crown also conceded that structural racism is a feature of the care and protection system which has had adverse effects for tamariki Māori, whānau, hapū and iwi. This has resulted from a series of legislative, policy and systems settings over time and has detrimentally impacted the relationship between Māori and the Crown.
Further I wish to observe that while the historic data is patchy, and the practices for recording ethnicity varied between institution and over time, it is clear that at least from the mid twentieth century, Māori have been disproportionately over-represented in care and experienced a range of damaging outcomes. The ongoing effect of historical injustices on iwi, hapū and whānau continue to cast a long shadow. The Crown acknowledged in the Waitangi Tribunal inquiry that the disproportionate number of tamariki Māori entering and remaining in care is undesirable and unacceptable and accepts Te Tiriti o Waitangi requires the Crown to take all reasonable steps to address this inequity.
An independent report commissioned by the Crown Response has been completed by Ihi Research to assist this investigation. This report, understood to be the most comprehensive study ever of Māori experience of State care, provides detailed evidence, including observations from people working in the system, that validates the broad conclusions I have described. The research also discusses the broader context and the factors contributing. The report is a valuable insight into the experience of those most affected by the Crown’s approach and policies over time.
We’re hopeful that this hearing will be a platform for survivors to tell their truth and can be the start of meaningful change.
The Crown will be listening carefully. We acknowledge the significance of this Inquiry and the Royal Commission’s dedication to uncovering what happened to children, young people and vulnerable adults, many of whom are Māori, in State and Faith-based care in Aotearoa. The Royal Commission’s interim redress report He Purapura Ora, he Māra Tipu shows us ways of how things could be done better.
Survivor stories are informing change to improve government systems to prevent further abuse and to provide an opportunity for redress to those who have suffered abuse. We are committed to being held to account by survivors and to changing the way things are done.
As for previous hearings, the Crown will not be seeking to question any survivor witnesses, nor to have any questions put to survivor witnesses through counsel assisting.
To complete this opening statement, I would like to reflect on the following whakatauki to reinforce/ convey the essence of the Crown’s aspirations for this hearing.
Speak what has been silent.
Heal what has been hurt.
Restore what has been lost.
From the dark to the light, let us all stand strong, brave and steadfast.
Counsel for the Crown
7 March 2022