Abuse survivor recalls rape, digging grave during mock executions

3:39 pm on 8 May 2021

Petrified young teenage boys digging their own graves and a mock execution has been outlined to the inquiry into abuse in care on Friday.

Great Barrier Island

A youth camp on Great Barrier Island turned from an adventure into a horrific ordeal for boys in the care of Social Welfare. Photo: RNZ/Carol Stiles

The abuse survivor has name suppression.

At the age of 15 he was sent by Social Welfare to the Whakapakiri Youth Trust on Great Barrier Island.

It started out like Tom Sawyer's adventures but soon turned to Friday the 13th horror, he said.

After a few days four of the boys, including him, were marched off during the day to a site near the camp and ordered to dig.

''The supervisors told us we were getting executed and we've got to dig our graves.''

He said the graves were quite deep. ''At least two or three feet deep.

''We were told to get in the graves face down and we were going to get shot.''

Once they were in the graves the supervisor started shooting, he said.

''We all just came flying out of our grave. We were all just trying to get out of it. He was just kicking us back down into the grave and stomping on us to get us back in the grave and face down.'

''I was petrified, we all were. We were just screaming, screaming for our lives.''

They did not know if someone had been shot or who was going to get shot next, he said.

''This guy was wielding his gun around and shooting it and I mean we just couldn't help it and tried to look out of the hole if it was you being shot at or someone else.''

Eventually they were allowed out of the graves.

''We were all just traumatised at that point and I think we were just happy to be alive to.''

He was at the camp for a month and on the last day the same supervisor raped him in a cabin.

The supervisor marched him and another boy over to a cabin carrying the gun he took everywhere, he said.

''He was wielding his gun towards the door. 'You two are in there with me'," he said.

''I thought 'oh god', I had already witnessed other instances and I knew what I was in for.

''He's raped me and I mean it was excruciating pain.''

On leaving the camp the next day he was warned.

''I knew that if I ever repeated what happened on that island I was a dead man.

''It was so shameful I actually didn't want to tell anyone about it.''

He carried a lot of guilt and shame over the rape.

''I had to live with that shame and it was just disgusting and no wonder I didn't tell people about it. It's pretty heinous.''

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