8 May 2019

Government sets out how it will respond to historical state abuse inquiry

11:06 am on 8 May 2019

The government has agreed on principles to guide how government agencies and the Crown responds to the Royal Commission into historical abuse in state care and in the care of faith-based institutions.

Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education.

Minister for State Services Chris Hipkins Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The inquiry was formally established in February last year, and is chaired by former governor-general Sir Anand Satyanand.

Its initial scope was to cover circumstances where the state directly ran institutions like child welfare institutions, borstals or psychiatric hospitals, and where the government contracted services out to other institutions, but was later expanded to include children in the care of religious institutions.

Minister for State Services Chris Hipkins said he would lead the Crown's response to the inquiry.

Setting out the principles was an important step in rebuilding trust between the government and those abused while in state care, he said.

"This is an incredibly important matter. The government is determined to take action in a transparent, coordinated and timely way to ensure such wide scale abuse over such a long period can never be allowed to happen again."

The six principles are:

  • Manaakitanga - treating people with humanity, compassion, fairness, respect and responsible caring that upholds the mana of those involved;
  • Openness - being honest and sincere, being open to receiving new ideas and willing to consider how we do things currently, and how we have done things in the past;
  • Transparency - sharing information, including the reasons behind all actions;
  • Learning - active listening and learning from the Royal Commission and survivors, and using that information to change and improve systems;
  • Being joined up - agencies work together closely to make sure activities are aligned, engagement with the Royal Commission is coordinated and the resulting actions are collectively owned;
  • Meeting our obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi - honouring the Treaty, its principles, meeting our obligations and building a stronger Māori-Crown relationship through the way we operate and behave.

Mr Hipkins said the Royal Commission might make recommendations over the next four years, and he expected government agencies to start working on those recommendations as they were made.

The Royal Commission will present an interim report in December 2020 and its final report by January 2023.

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