NZ abuse royal commission demands apology

Ben McKayAAP
Chris Hipkins has called the difficulty for NZ abuse survivors to seek redress "a national disgrace"
Camera IconChris Hipkins has called the difficulty for NZ abuse survivors to seek redress "a national disgrace" Credit: AP

New Zealand's governor-general, prime minister and faith leaders have been urged to give public apologies by the nation's Royal Commission into Abuse in Care.

Public acknowledgement of suffering, and a public redress system, are headline recommendations of the commission's work - which will be completed in 2023 - released on Wednesday.

Stories within the 424-page interim report detail barbaric and horrific abuse.

"Some of it was torture," commission chair Coral Shaw said.

"It is incomprehensible that human beings could behave like this towards another. What is just as baffling is how those in authority failed in their responses to survivors' requests for redress.

"It was clear survivors had been deeply harmed by their time in the institutions that were entrusted to care for them. How, in the face of this, could anyone not be shocked and stirred into action?"

The Royal Commission, ordered by the government in 2018, is analysing the abuse of young people and vulnerable adults in the care of state and faith-based institutions, dating back to 1950.

Estimates suggest more than a quarter of a million New Zealanders may have suffered at the hands of those organisations.

Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins said the difficulty for survivors to seek redress - which many say brought additional trauma - amounted to a "national disgrace".

"Their voices have now been heard and one of the key messages that's come out of hearing the voices is that they want a redress system that's meaningful and that they can have trust and confidence in," he said.

The government will start to create the redress system before the final commission report is due in 2023.

As of September, the commission had heard the personal stories of 1585 New Zealanders, analysed 870,000 documents, and held 87 public hearings.

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