The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry has been presented with an independent research report showing that structural and systemic racism across several government organisations was responsible for the over-representation of Māori in State care.
The report says government policies, over successive Governments, focused on intentionally dismantling Māori communities and undermining whānau, hapū and iwi structures.
The report is called Hāha-uri, Hāha-tea – Māori Involvement in State Care 1950-1999.
The research was commissioned by the Crown Response to the Abuse in Care Inquiry and was carried out by Māori research specialists Ihi Research.
A whakatau was held in Te Whanganui-a-Tara late last month, where Crown Response and Ihi Research handed over the report to the Royal Commission to use in its inquiry.
The report pulls together, for the first time, data from several sources about Māori in State care between 1950 and 1999.
The Ihi Research findings show colonisation, institutional racism, and assimilationist policies led directly to the over-representation of Māori in State care.
Commissioner Julia Steenson (Ngāti Whātua, Tainui) notes, “The report findings provide evidence that Māori in care received worse treatment than others in State care and experienced racism and restrictions in accessing their whānau. Many Māori survivors have become disconnected from their culture, language and whakapapa as a result.”
“The name Hāhā-uri, hāhā tea reflects that, while this research sheds light on the experiences of Māori who were placed in care, much remains unspoken in the shadows,” said Commissioner Steenson.
The report gives information about why Māori were over-represented in State care, which is critical to the Royal Commission’s inquiry. The Royal Commission will now assess and consider these research findings as part of its inquiry.
Commissioner Anaru Erueti (Ngā Ruahinerangi, Ngāti Ruanui, Te Ātihaunui ā Pāpārangi) says, “The research belongs to Māori who were placed in care, and it contains sensitive information about the experiences they lived through. We are honoured to hold it as a taonga for our inquiry.”
“Our inquiry’s Māori public hearing in March 2022 aims to further reveal the shocking treatment of Māori in care, focusing on the abuse they suffered and the long-lasting impacts. We will provide Māori survivors with a long-awaited public platform to share their experiences with Aotearoa,” said Commissioner Erueti.
Hāha-uri, Hāha-tea is one source of information the Royal Commission is drawing on in its inquiry into Māori experiences of abuse in care. It complements the accounts provided to the inquiry by survivors and their whānau, and information from iwi, Māori NGOs, Māori academics and other research.
The Royal Commission is continuing to hear from hundreds of Māori survivors through public hearings, wānanga, hui and private interactions.