29 Oct 2019

New Royal Commission chair to be announced 'very shortly'

8:27 am on 29 October 2019

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in Care chair will be announced within the next week or so.

Jacinda Ardern

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The former head of the inquiry announced in August that he was stepping down.

Sir Anand Satyanand said he was leaving the Royal Commission because the work load increased markedly when the inquiry's scope was widened to include faith-based institutions.

He had chaired the high-level inquiry since its establishment last February.

Ms Ardern told Morning Report while she could not name the person who will replace him, the announcement will be made "very, very shortly".

New Zealand's biggest Royal Commission of Inquiry will start hearing evidence publicly for the first time today and will hear evidence from abuse survivors, advocates, academics and lawyers over the next fortnight.

The Royal Commission has been plagued with problems for some time - including that a member of the Mongrel Mob who has a domestic violence conviction had been appointed a key position of director of policy and research.

"There have been some issues along the way for this Royal Commission into abuse in state care and religious institutions, actually, there's not been an inquiry around the world that has been free of issues, these are very difficult issues to inquire into," Ms Ardern said.

"Some of the issues that have arisen, they are suspended for a time, the advisory council, where some of those issues had arisen until they can be sure and sure themselves that everything is back on track.

"Our hope and expectation is that we continue to build the strong agenda of programmes for the Royal Commission and commissioners as they begin their substantive work."

She said she was not concerned the new chair will be on the backfoot, by coming in after the hearings have started.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs