Māori abused in state care have spoken about the violent environments they were placed in as children, and how embracing their Māoritanga, their cultural identity, has helped them on their healing journey.
Friday was the fifth day in a hearing for Māori survivors in Auckland as part of the ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry into abuse in state and faith-based care.
The Royal Commission heard from one survivor, Te Aroha (Ngāpuhi, Waikato Tainui), who went into care at the age of 10 because of abuse at home.
The inquiry heard how she was placed in various foster homes and other state care institutions where she experienced sexual assault and was neglected by social workers.
Te Aroha told the Royal Commission she had no support system, and no one to talk to about her experiences, which meant her childhood was spent in an endless cycle of fight or flight, and being punished by her carers for “causing trouble”.
These events subsequently caused her to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and saw her disconnected from her Māoritanga.