Anglican church welcomes broader abuse inquiry

By Moana Makapelu Lee

The Anglican church is welcoming the government's announcement to include faith-based institutions in its inquiry into historical abuse of children in state care.  Northland Bishop Te Kitohi Pikaahu says the inquiry must not be limited to the state sector and churches must also be held accountable.

The Anglican church says the inquiry will provide a pathway to healing for the victims of abuse.

Bishop Pikaahu says, "This is inquiry is about resolution for men and women in state and church care.”

He says many children were placed into church care from 1940-1980 and an investigation would unveil the extent of abuse.

“The government are now listening.  Churches must also be held to account for any wrongdoing against those in their care.”

In a letter to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in March, the Anglican church requested that churches be included in the inquiry but were turned down.

“I believe it’s because they were afraid of how far the extent of the issue went, but nothing will go amiss in this inquiry.”

Ardern told media on Monday, "It was very hard to ignore the strength of feeling that came through during the consultation process.”

“I myself was a very strong advocate for it remaining narrow around state care because of that duty of care, that responsibility that we have but we had to listen and we have listened."

The Catholic church also welcomed the expansion, saying they also pushed for the inclusion.

In a statement to Te Kāea, The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference (NZCBC) says, “The view we expressed during the consultation was that it would be wrong if some individuals were excluded from the inquiry simply because their path of referral to an institution was different from someone else's.”

“We reaffirm our support and our desire to learn from this national undertaking which we are confident will contribute positively to the strengthening and safeguarding of our families, communities and society.”

Bishop Pikaahu says, “Whether we be Christian- Presbyterian, Anglican or other we must all support this to stand in truth in the eyes of God, our faith and the government so that any wrongdoing may be rectified.”

The inquiry will be conducted over four years and will begin hearing evidence in January.