Historical abuse in state care - Government sets out how it’ll respond to inquiry

  • Hon Chris Hipkins
State Services

The Government has agreed on a set of principles to guide how government agencies and the Crown responds to the Royal Commission into historical abuse in state care and in the care of faith-based institutions.

As Minister of State Services, Chris Hipkins will lead the Crown’s response to the Royal Commission’s inquiry.

“Eleven government agencies are involved in responding to the inquiry. Given the scale and the significance, Cabinet has set out how Government agencies will engage with the Royal Commission and survivors,” Chris Hipkins said.

The six principles are:

  • manaakitanga – treating people with humanity, compassion, fairness, respect and responsible caring that upholds the mana of those involved;
  • openness – being honest and sincere, being open to receiving new ideas and willing to consider how we do things currently, and how we have done things in the past;
  • transparency – sharing information, including the reasons behind all actions;
  • learning – active listening and learning from the Royal Commission and survivors, and using that information to change and improve systems;
  • being joined up – agencies work together closely to make sure activities are aligned, engagement with the Royal Commission is coordinated and the resulting actions are collectively owned; and
  • meeting our obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi – honouring the Treaty, its principles, meeting our obligations and building a stronger Māori-Crown relationship through the way we operate and behave.

“In setting out the principles, we have taken an important step in the vital task of rebuilding trust between Government and children who were abused while they were in state care.

“This is an incredibly important matter. The Government is determined to take action in a transparent, coordinated and timely way to ensure such wide scale abuse over such a long period can never be allowed to happen again.

“It has been indicated to me that the Royal Commission may make recommendations as it identifies trends and issues over the next four years. If they do, I expect Government agencies to start working on those recommendations as they are made.

“It is thought that at least half of children in state care were Māori. It is vital that their experiences are recognised and respected by Crown agencies. My expectation is that our principles-based cross-agency approach will help enable this.

“The concerns of Pacific people and people with disabilities also needed to be addressed.

“The Royal Commission’s work will have a big impact on how government agencies care for children and vulnerable adults,” Chris Hipkins said.

The Royal Commission will present an interim report in December 2020 and its final report by January 2023.


The Cabinet paper on the proposed strategic approach to guide the Crown engagement with, and response to, the Royal Commission of inquiry into historical abuse can be found here.