250 000 children abused – The Horror of the NZ State

The Graffiti NZ anarchist punk Neil Roberts spray painted on the wall before attempting to blow up the NZ Police Computer in Wanganui 38 years ago

The enormity of the number of vulnerable children abused by the State in NZ must force reflection…

Royal Commission into Abuse in Care: Estimated 250,000 victims

The numbers are astounding – figures out this morning from the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care estimate there are up to 250,000 victims over 70 years.

They are children, young people and vulnerable adults who suffered beatings, sexual assault and other cruelty while in state or religious care between 1950 and 2019.

The cost to society of the physical and mental injuries, criminal behaviour, homelessness, lack of education and unemployment is calculated at $217 billion.

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…at least quarter of a million NZ children abused, costing over $200billion and causing immeasurable social carnage.

THAT is the legacy of NZ welfare.

An underfunded punitive stick with which to beat the Christ out of the weakest members of society.

We must all hang out heads in collective shame.

This is what happens when a punitive culture of mini tyrants are left in charge of an underfunded process designed to punish the poor.

Once upon a time in New Zealand, the agencies of state welfare were constructed as an instrumental and direct means to ensure our egalitarian values.

Social welfare was seen as a way to redistribute back to the most vulnerable amongst us and these agencies were critical in carrying out that redistribution.

There was a pride involved in this public service, our compassion made us unique and it built the values from which we as New Zealanders have benefitted from.

That simply is no longer the case.

Between the 1950s-1980s, a perverse mix of ignorance, zero oversight and the darker side of our nature dominated large insinuations that acted more like an abusers paradise than a socially progressive democratic welfare system.

For the last 30+ years, the neoliberal experiment has turned our once egalitarian welfare state into a neoliberal welfare state. The branches of social welfare, the MoD, CYFS, Corrections, Parole Services, Housing NZ, WINZ and Mental health have all been warped and mutated into weapons to punish the poor for being vulnerable.

In a culture of me first and gimme, gimmies where success is private and failure is personal , we see the poor as victims of their own circumstance rather than as a result of the hegemonic structures of power.

The poor, the vulnerable, the weak, the sick and the disabled do everything in their power not to be needing assistance from these Government agencies, because these Government agencies don’t help, they only punish.

We have a MoD who put homeless people into illegal housing.

We have a WINZ service who break people each day and force them to grovel on their belly to make ends meet. Who perform mass surveillance spying on beneficiaries to catch them out in ‘relationships’ despite WINZ not telling anyone what the actual relationship equation is and we have 60% of beneficiaries oweing WINZ money because WINZ claims they’ve defrauded the system by having a ‘relationship’.

We have a Corrections department that is more interested in hiding prisoner suicide stats than actually looking after their prisoners , more interested in locking 10 000 NZers up for profit than rehabilitating them.

We have a Paroles Service that almost every NGO despises having to work with because it’s staffed by people who enjoy the power they have over prisoners lives and are concerned with  only throwing them back into prison.

We have an agency that sexually molests, abuses and assaults the children they are supposed to look after while continuing to remove children from families.

We have a mental health system that still sees skyrocketing suicide rates.

We have a Housing NZ more focused on throwing people out of their homes based on flawed meth testing than providing shelter to the poorest amongst us.

22000 are on social housing waiting lists, 1 in 5 children live in poverty and speculators are pricing home ownership to of reach for every generation who isn’t a boomer.

For me, nothing  sums up the horror of our neoliberal welfare state more than what happened in 2016 with the Auckland Action Against Poverty beneficiary clinic they held for 3 days outside a South Auckland WINZ office. Over a 1000 people lined up to beg for help from activists to gain some type of assistance from WINZ.

Just comprehend that.

WINZ are so evil to these people that a 1000 of them lined up to gain assistance from AAAP. Some had walked since before dawn to arrive in time to get help. Many were in tears and emotionally distraught by the way WINZ had treated them.

What kind of an indictment is that?

Right now we have Oranga Tamariki, a neoliberal welfare experiment that argues early intervention will save the State downstream costs and we are seeing the exact same types of State abuses occur again!

Which demands questions of us on the Left.

Is this abuse because of grotesque underfunding of a welfare system that is about punishing the vulnerable or is there something innate about the State that means its lack of oversight and accountability will always be reduced to an abusers paradise?

The older I get, the more convinced I am that the biggest abuser of rights in NZ is the State.

Every passing year I become more of an anarchist at a time when the State will be essential for surviving the climate crisis.

Elections change Governments.

Revolutions change the State.

We need a revolution at the ballot box to seriously reform the State or we are simply enabling it to continue to damage our fellow citizens.

Our forefathers died and bled on foreign shores to prevent Governments from damaging their own people like this, perhaps the real fight was always here.


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  1. ‘Every passing year I become more of an anarchist at a time when the State will be essential for surviving the climate crisis.’

    By the time your reach my age you’ll be awesome. That’s if the state hasn’t killed you.

    You really are supposed to be a compliant nobody who consumes mindlessly, like the other ‘good’ citizens.

    ‘Our forefathers died and bled on foreign shores to prevent Governments from damaging their own people like this,’

    I believe they died and bled on foreign shores to protect the vested interests and privileges of the scum at the top, especially British scum at the top.


  2. “An underfunded punitive stick with which to beat the Christ out of the weakest members of society.”

    God Bless Martyn. It takes an atheists like Martyn to point this out. Where are my fallow Christians on this? Where are you, letting the state beat up and destroy the poor, as Martyn so succinctly put in this one simple sentence?

    Where are you in your obligation to up life the poor? Where are you to protect the weak? I know where you were and what you were doing – and you not going to like my criticism. You were all suckered in by a corrupted, twisted and down right evil theology – Prosperity theology.

    Ask yourself where were you, and why were you not doing Gods work in relation to the poor?

    • One of the things I took early on board from Evangelist Billy Graham was never, ever ,… defend the church. Whether catholic or protestant, never defend it. Why?, – because there always will be those among its leadership who have their eyes firmly trained on this world and not the other. Every institution is the same. Chris Trotter wrote an excellent article on just that.

      Never defend the church. Ever. It stands or falls on its deeds and is no way the exception. From time long ago, evil manipulators have crept into the ‘church’ to make it less than what it should have been. Caught up in politics and the economy , it was more often a servant of mammon than of faith. More often an instrument of oppression than of freedom. More often a tool of empire than of community.

      The only one to judge the church is the Lord Jesus Christ, – and mark my words,… He will. The Bride of Christ and its infidelity. Or its faithfulness. So yes, the ‘church’ has a lot to answer for over the many century’s. From genocide to marginalization. Its all there. But I wonder how much is purely and simply godless, faithless , and murderous secular human beings who used the ‘church’ as a tool for their own ends… and who enjoyed wearing the flowing robes and the holding staffs of authority in the process and eating the finest of foods while their ‘subjects’ starved and died….

      The Pogues – Turkish Song Of The Damned

  3. 250,000 vulnerable and neglected children abused in so-called care causing them unbearable suffering and trauma they will experience for the rest of their lives and it has taken this long to get to this point. Really? Like, where was the rightful outrage back then? This brutal abuse was condoned because these children were marginalised and the abuse was carried out by horrible people, in the main older males. It makes me sick to the stomach that no-one protected these children and no-one stood up for them. The attitude of the establishment at the time is reflected by the Crown’s attitude today, i.e. they wanted to minimise the dreadful harm done and avoid responsibility. In doing so it has continued the abuse and re-traumatised the victims.

    Imagine the outrage if a child of someone in the establishment was abused physically and sexually.

    • You can be assured youngsuffrajet, that there were people who tried to stand up for the children that were marginalised by the state. Sadly, trying to turn a liner with a rowboat was a thankless task with too few wins.

  4. It is easy to condemn the state, even though it is manifestly right to do so. But this is a country in which private persons abuse, kill, and batter their children in horrific numbers, and where over 80% of referendum respondents wanted the right to inflict violence upon children, in the run up to Sue Bradford’s “ anti-smacking” bill, and where Dr Bradford is still vilified by persons like that dreadful woman from Nelson, for trying to place a shawl of protection over our most precious taonga. That’s us.

    “ What you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me,” said that hippie from Galilee who would lose his job if he repeated it in a government department, and barely tolerated if he said it in Parliament. Thing is, the state is a reflection of who we as a people are, and at the best we are ignorami, and at the worst, callous heartless barbarians, and exceedingly stupid.

    One day, anthropologists may look back bemused at a populace which idolised human hunks of beef kicking an ovum shaped ball as a spiritual pinnacle, and themselves kicked whoever they thought they could get away with kicking, and not be surprised that we got taken over by a more thinking sort of culture. It happens.

    • “ What you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me,” said that hippie from Galilee who would lose his job if he repeated it in a government department, and barely tolerated if he said it in Parliament. Thing is, the state is a reflection of who we as a people are, and at the best we are ignorami, and at the worst, callous heartless barbarians, and exceedingly stupid.”…



    • I love this, I call the game Thugby.

      One day, anthropologists may look back bemused at a populace which idolised human hunks of beef kicking an ovum shaped ball as a spiritual pinnacle, and themselves kicked whoever they thought they could get away with kicking, and not be surprised that we got taken over by a more thinking sort of culture. It happens.

  5. This all seems to have started with the moral panic whipped up by the National Party in the 1950s about alleged juvenile delinquency in state housing areas built by Labour, and its self-presentation to the Kiwi public as a guardian of what Tim Shadbolt used to call lawn order. Come the 1980s, neoliberalism continued the pattern of state-backed child abuse, but by other means such as the combination of mass unemployment and benefit cuts.

  6. You forgot abusing those who have disabled children to care for. In some fucked up Rogernomics thinking apparently the disabled children are now employers to their caregivers and have to handle extensive paperwork….

    While the legacy of state abuse is damning, people should not give up.

    If there was more practicality for children and at risk people, and a higher standard of thinking about the complex situations that abuse often thrives in, then that would be a decent start.

    Stop those Rogernom businesses and quasi charities making money out of more abuse could also be a start and spending the money on much better state systems.

    In housing, Housing NZ apparently built more state houses than the much publicised Kiwibuild – maybe time a more back to the state with people running the organisations actually qualified in the area they are running and the employees also being qualified as of right, aka Oranga Tamariki needs more ‘social’ people in their board by the sound of it as well as more qualified people. Not full of business and woke and poorly paid, poorly qualified and under resourced staff in the organisation.

    Abused kids need practical and long term solutions – not some paper pusher and lawyers working for their own ease.

  7. In the 1970s when I was 14 years old I was rebelling against a world that didn’t make a lot of sense to me. My father represented NZ in his chosen sport and was ranked as one of NZ’s finest ever players at that time. I worshipped him but he was a hard man who struggled with open displays of love. He was away most weekends with his sport. I played high-level rep sport myself and was top of my class at school in most subjects but as I entered my teenage years I felt like a round peg looking for a square hole. One weekend myself and three friends decided it would be fun to throw rocks at a Warehouse and try and break as many windows as possible. We broke a shitload. Mr Plod caught up with us and three of us were sent to different boy’s homes / Borstals by the Courts. I was sent to the infamous Epuni Boys home in Lower Hutt. That facility is referred to many times during the Royal Commission into abuse while in State Care(less). I needed to stand up very quickly when I arrived there or be eaten alive. I stood up and survived the facility with only a few internal scars. The shit really hit the fan for me after I left Epuni. Part of the process with the then Social Welfare was to reintegrate you back into society via a Social Welfare “Family home”. Sounds good but it was a fucking nightmare. I knew things were bad when another teenage boy got seriously toweled up by the “father” in the home two days after I arrived. He was a big guy who worked as a slaughterman at the local works. The same shit happened again to another boy a few days later. These were brutal sadistic beatings and from what I could tell the boys had done nothing wrong. I knew my turn was coming so stayed well off his radar. Then as I was walking down the hallway to bed, the father appeared. He dragged me into the bathroom, threw me into the bath and beat seven bells out of me. Blood everywhere which I later had to clean up. Two black eyes. Swollen face. Blood nose. Top and bottom lips both cut and swollen. Ears felt like they had been bashed with a hammer and my scalp hurt from him holding me by the hair while he unloaded on me. Bruised all over my body and was sore for several weeks. A month later he did pretty much the same thing again but this time avoided leaving evidence all over my face.

    My comfort there came from one of his pig dogs I befriended (Ben). He noticed the relationship was important to me. He took me hunting with him. I’d been hunting before so knew what was normal and what wasn’t. He took obvious pleasure in the slow manner he killed animals and would send them packing via repeated blows to the head with his fist. I’d always been fond of animals so found his conduct difficult to handle. Truth be known I was too frightened to say fuck all about it. At the end of the hunt, he started yelling at the dog who had been sitting quietly. This appeared a contrived move to upset me. The dog was bricking and tried to hide behind me while I was also sitting on the ground. He pointed his 303 rifle at the dog but couldn’t get a clear shot at him. He kicked me out of the way and then shot the dog in the head. Ben’s blood and other matter was splatted all over my face and chest etc. I will remember for life what he said as he walked away. “That will make a man out of you”. It changed me for sure but not in the way he intended. Any fear I had in me was knocked out that day. It was replaced with rage.

    I spent the next few years fighting and looked for more of the same. Later I hooked up with the local motorcycle club. They used my services to collect debts, settle scores and work the door at clubs etc. A few years later I met up with the “father” from the “Social Welfare family home”. He’d been visiting me in my sleep for ten years so seeing him again had become my fantasy.

    I moved to Auckland and hooked up with the biggest motorcycle club of all. I was only used to collect debts that other collectors had failed with or got toweled up during the process. I was seen as a tough guy covered in ink who caved in skulls but disliked what I’d become. I met the right lady and we started a family. I restarted my education and later completed multiple post-graduate degrees. I despised seeing myself as a one-dimensional tough guy. I had a family but the rage still simmered just under the surface where it still resides over 4 decades after I went into State Care. I run a modest business with a dozen staff and mix with all types. I’m probably the last person you’d expect to be a Jacinda Fan.

    I’m not seeking any compensation from the State. I don’t see myself as a victim. That aside, I received my compensation many years ago when I as an adult man met up with my abuser.

    • @Jacindafan – you should submit to the enquiry and still tell your story – it’s even better if a range of survival stories are told to bring abusers to justice. The abusers looking after the abused kids and in a position of power are the most reprehensible. Kia Kaha.

      • Agreed SaveNZ. Jacindafan may not need compensation for themself, but their testimony might help prevent further abuse to others. However, I do get that the circumstances of later utu may not make coming forward without risk.

        Everyone is both victim and perpetrator in various circumstances. Understanding that at least helps make new and different mistakes in the future.

        • Forget now,

          You’re absolutely correct.

          The exacted Utu that unfolded a decade later was comprehensive and prevents me from taking any further action.

          I have however assisted several others to stand tall since about the abuse they suffered at the hands of the State.

          Cheers bro.

    • Jacindafan. How very well you have done after such a very tough start – I salute you. You are on my list of inspiring people. Your story is your story, and do with it what you will, but some things stay with us forever, so put yourself and your wife, and the children who you’ve been blessed with first – that’s your place. Kia kaha.

    • Damb!
      Rule number one. Never make assumptions about people who’s comments you read online.
      I had to turn off the phone and take my dogs for a bush walk after reading your grim but inspiring history.
      Was reminded of Crump,who turned me on to just how simply a man could live, but who turned out to be a wife beating arsehole who shot his favorite dog just as a warning, not to tell.
      Which begs the question, what do we do with the arseholes of the world and how far “kindness” goes before you get the gun out. Cheers.

    • How about all the victims you and your biker mates intimidated and abused over the years JF, spare any thoughts for them, and the affect your abuse had on them and their families?
      You know the ones that you so eloquently refer to as in shallow graves all around NZ, getting their last ride in the boot of some car?
      Instead it’s all about you and the shit path you decided to take, you had a choice, you choose badly.
      I personally know a lot of others who have has just as harder lives, paid out directly by their own Whanau, but THEY individually decided to not take the path you took.
      I dont hear any contrition or remorse from you, in regards to your victims.
      Will they be able to exact their compensation from you in due course?

      • Pedro,

        I see you’re still hurting and bitter from your previous exchange with me months later.

        My only regret about your “input” here is that it’s online and not in a setting where you are made accountable for the cowardly vile judgments you spout off. We both know that’s the exact reason a piss ant like you would never throw your fluff offline.

        I don’t speak for my biker mates. The only bikers I’m involved with these days are hard-working family men who despise drugs like “P” and do their part in steering young people away from the plague that has created carnage for so many families. Not everyone is cut from the same cloth so ram your judgments right up your arse where they belong. Choosing and enjoying the biker lifestyle is a very positive choice for tens of millions of good people around the world but please feel free to share your judgments with them directly the next time you see them out and about. I’m sure they won’t see you as it’s virtually impossible to see an inadequate man peeping out from behind the curtains.

        Happy to concede I did deliberately intimidate people. I knew of many good guys who were screwed over by people with no personal integrity who refused to honour previous commitments and whose word is utterly worthless. The creditor invariably had their life turned on its head by debtors who actively avoid fronting up. That impacted every area of their life both personal and professional. Sleep issues for creditors were fairly common. Just going and asking a debtor to do the right thing usually failed. There had to be some looming consequence to motivate a certain type of person. I know of many collectors that were badly injured while attempting to collect a debt. I’ve had rifles, handguns, and rifles pointed at me along with any number of knives. These are the very same people you referred to as my “victims”.

        A huge part of the reward was seeing the absolute relief of a creditor when the debt was finally resolved and they had their life back. The debtors were not “victims”.

        I have a mate who’s 15-year-old daughter was savagely raped by a complete shitheel with a history of abusing females. The burden of proof required is so high with sexual offenses that many offenders are gifted a free pass. In this case, the offender taunted the father and his daughter during the entire trial. He was found not guilty and shortly after laughed hysterically at them outside the court. Several weeks after that court case the offender had a complete change of heart. Prior to moving to Australia, he sold his vehicle along with every other possession he owned. This money amounting to 25k was paid to the father to be passed on to his rape victim daughter along with a comprehensive apology letter owning every aspect of the rape. The rapist was no victim. I’m fairly certain that most rape victims and their parents etc would be very satisfied with that outcome if they were confronted with a similar set of circumstances but they live in the real world where bad things happen to good people.

        Interesting that you’ve chosen to totally misrepresent what I said about shallow graves several months ago. I was of course referring to the referendum to legalize cannabis. Most people accept that many people have been killed over the years as a result of debts often relating to relatively small amounts of cannabis. I made reference to there being many shallow graves around NZ due to the cannabis trade and how I felt it was well past time to approach cannabis legislation differently.

        As for a ride in the boot of a car. Had you abused me offline in the same reprehensible and extremely personal manner you’ve done so here, you’d be taking a ride. Stand for something in life or fall for anything. Cowardly online trolls are worthy of total and complete contempt.

        Yes, I did choose a shit path. I was 14 years old and decided to throw stones at a warehouse and smash as many windows as possible one Saturday afternoon. Many 14-year-olds lack insight into what may unfold from their actions at that age. If I could go back in time and do something different that day I would do so in a heartbeat. Who was it that ironically said the following, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone”? Also ironic that the last person who lived to adulthood without committing a sin ended up being nailed to a cross. Must be difficult for you to be perfect. Well done you.

        No, it’s most definitely not all about me. Never has been. Having said that, if you’re sharing some of your anecdotal histories on a subject entirely relevant in a blog pertaining to abuse in State Care, of course, it’s going to be about me you shit for brains. If I was going to speak of others, I’d be the first to admit that many people suffered far worse abuse in State Care than me. I’m certain that in at least some cases the victim ended up taking themselves out.

        Hats off to the people who suffered abuse in State Care that took a different path than I did in the years following the abuse. The relevance of that is what exactly?

        Different abuse can obviously have different outcomes in different personality types. I went from being a frightened 14-year-old boy who was sadistically and savagely beaten and then head fucked on an epic scale to a fearless adult man who used that complete lack of fear to facilitate positive results for others where that had been a previous injustice. I can see how some victims of abuse could so easily go on to become worse than the person who abused them decades previously. I ran that line myself but came out the other side rather well. All of my children are successful by any standard. One of my daughters is a bank manager. I have another daughter who is highly respected health professional. My youngest finished highschool with multiple scholarships and is now on his way to becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. I have three grandsons who are all top of their class at school. I was mortgage-free at 50 and our North Shore home now has a GV of 1.7.

        Where exactly should I feel remorse or contrition? Who are my victims?

        You wouldn’t know if your arse was on fire.

  8. Dear Jacindafan,
    You have moved me to tears.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I’ve often thought, when reading your comments on TDB: who is this loving person?
    Now I know a little bit more.
    I think I understand you choosing to be a Jacinda Fan.
    Thanks again!

    • I think of a new moniker ending with ‘fan’ and can’t come up with anything, thanks to reality and Lee’s decimation of Savage. People for the people is good.

      By which we could get back on track. The best of us are saying ‘right’ in the face of the infant mistress and master and who can deny us, the last of us who grew up during the Welfare State.

      If even a one of us carries through… we can be right. The 84 elite believe they’re there by merit and don’t understand the society that produced them. The economy was dead then but the people had control. Now, a little reverse.

      On the strictly rational basis, the freemarket 40 years was immensely beneficial to the poor of the Third World.

  9. Those in poverty are being abused by the state as a blind eye is turned to any increase in benefits and no party seems to have the guts to suggest to only have children you can afford th look after.

  10. It’s so disgusting, Martyn. Our strange, deep dark side, which if we addressed would tell so much about us. NZ, halfway between Sweden and America. Suspended for missiles from both sides. My farve was a teacher at Dilworth in the early 70s, I went to school then with orphanage kids who told us about having to sleep outside if they misbehaved.



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