Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is in Geneva and has asked a United Nations committee to urge the New Zealand government to initiate an inquiry into the physical and sexual abuse of children and disabled people held in state institutions.
“Last month I stood alongside abuse survivors at the steps of their parliament and it was one of the most heart breaking things I’ve ever done. As children they suffered years of abuse at the hands of their own Government and there they were asking for justice,” said Dame Susan.
“We know that of the children who were taken, the overwhelming majority were Maori: upwards of 80 and sometimes 100% in various children’s homes. These state homes were the beginning of the mass incarceration of Maori New Zealanders in our state institutions. And it is still going on. The refusal by successive governments to investigate is not only wrong, it is immoral. This is not my New Zealand and I urged the UN to tell our Government to do the right thing.”
Dame Susan is representing the NZ Human Rights Commission before the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimiation (CERD), the independent body of human rights experts which monitors whether New Zealand complies with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
“We live in one of the most peaceful and ethnically diverse nations on earth and yet racism happens in New Zealand. Racial hatred starts small, but so too does hope: this is why we launched our country’s first anti-racism campaign.”
“I am able to tell the United Nations of how our New Zealander of the Year Taika Waititi and other beloved Kiwis dropped everything to stand publicly with us against racism: they made me feel so proud to be a New Zealander. Millions more of us have joined us to Give Nothing to racism.”
“A nation’s identity is not just about a flag or an anthem. A nation’s identity is about who we are as a people, how we treat each other and importantly, how our State treats us.”