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Hearing and Healing the Violence of State Care

Press Release: NZAP Public Issues Portfolio 11 April 2017

Hearing and Healing the Violence of State Care

New Zealand Psychotherapists are horrified that so many children suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse while in the "care" of the State in NZ as shown on TV 3 program, The Hui recently. Psychotherapists often work closely with the effects of childhood abuse. Effects can include severe mental health difficulties, problems forming trusting relationships, alcohol abuse and addictions.

“Generations of children of this country were subjected to abuse by the people who were paid to care for them and the impacts of that are evident today more than ever.” Says Kiritapu Murray, a member of the New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists.

Murray says: “The men and women who were the raped, abused and beaten children are now the parents and grandparents who may not be able to understand the impacts themselves, let alone share with those around them. This abuse occurred when social workers, and professionals, were trusted to care for them.”

“The name of the organisation has changed from Department of Social Welfare, to Child Youth and Family recently to Vulnerable Children/Oranga Tamariki, but New Zealanders are demanding more than a name change. The government is minimising the harm done to these individuals and their whanau”.

“It is surely our responsibility to hear the voices of all those involved, to have them publicly believed and to assist them and their families to heal. This is not Maori whakapapa, this is our story as a country” says Murray.



“There is no moving forward if we don’t know where we are moving from. Acknowledging the past, and all its heart wrenching details is not just a cathartic process to motivate healing for individuals, but a conversation based on true events that bred the systemic violence that our young people were subjected to and have then impacted every relationship they have ever had since” Murray explains.

Resulting anxiety, depression and disorganized attachment impact on family members and future generations in these whanau and families. NZAP members recognize that people who been affected by childhood abuse want to participate fully in society just like everyone else:

“If this legacy is left to impact on future generations we all lose out’ says Catherine Gilberd, a Wellington psychotherapist. “A robust, skilled framework needs to be set up to address and understand what went wrong, to give a voice to those who have suffered harm and to provide a clear pathway for the future” says Gilberd.


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