Kim Hill had an astounding and outstanding interview with Anne Tolley this morning on RNZ.
The 7.30 news was delayed 12 minutes as Tolley evaded the fact that thousands of children were abused by the state in the 50s and 60s, and she refused to hold an inquiry into just how many thousands.
She also refused to apologise.
I’m not sure why – it’s not her or her government to blame, and it would give some sense of peace to the many victims to have those wrongs at least acknowledged by the state. Instead she now really needs to apologise for her uncaring manner in this morning’s interview as well.
As to an inquiry – the judge who listened to 7 years of stories from victims was complaining her report was ignored in March; the Chief Human Rights Commissioner at the time of that report’s writing in 2011 was reported a week ago saying Chris Finlayson had shelved it; and it’s clear from the 1100 who have come forward that this was a widespread systemic problem, whose victims will have been left with a distrust of government (and the Social Development Ministry in particular), who need an independent inquiry to be willing to talk to it.
Instead they’re getting shut-up letters with small offers of compensation for waiving legal rights.
This widespread separation of children from their families (for a day’s wagging, or stealing a pencil), and subsequent placing in institutions that were effectively prisons (children left in cells with nothing, not even a mattress during the day), would be one of the major causes of our high level of incarceration today. Especially among Maori, who made up to 80% of some Boys Homes.
This has been a topic of research that lead to Elizabeth Stanley’s recently published book The Road to Hell: State Violence against Children in Postwar New Zealand, but is surely something that needs an in-depth independent investigation to see how many victims there were, how we can make it right for them, what are the connections to modern societal ills, and how we can avoid such things ever happening again.
RNZ have done some fantastic work on this – especially worth reading the story covering Kim Hill’s interview this morning, which also includes Kathryn Ryan’s interview with a survivor of state care abuse; and the in-depth piece on just how bad the torture, how widespread the practice, why it developed and the massive implications it’s caused for contemporary society.