Scope of Royal Commission clarified

Published on 1st May, 2019

Commissioners to the Royal Inquiry are Dr Andrew Erueti, Judge Coral Shaw, Sir Anand Satyan (Chair), Paul Gibson and Ali’imuamua Sandra Alofivae. Photo: abuseinstatecare.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions has commenced its substantive work in early 2019. Commissioners to the Inquiry are Ali’imuamua Sandra Alofivae, Dr Andrew Erueti, Paul Gibson, Sir Anand Satyanand (Chair) and Judge Coral Shaw.

On 1 March 2019, the Royal Commission released a shortened plain English version the Terms of Reference, which explains the scope of the Commission in simple English. (—Plain-English-version)

The Commission have also indicated an expansion of the scope. The Commission has clarified it will examine abuse in church settings, such as in sacristies or seminaries, and in circumstances where a child was in their own or on a trip and was harmed by a priest or religious. The Royal Commission will examine any situation where the state or a faith-based institution ‘took responsibility for looking after a person’.

After the Government decided to add abuse in faith-based institutions to the scope of the Royal Commission, victims and survivors and their advocates were concerned about what ‘in the care of faith-based institutions’ included and excluded. They were concerned it included only abuse that took place within the physical confines of a faith-based institution.

The announcement is being described as a change-in-scope by advocates but the Royal Commission says it is only a clarification of the existing scope.

The Commission has not yet announced what their processes will be but have indicated there are likely to be public hearings to hear directly from individuals and groups. These will focus on specific case studies (yet to be identified) and will take place at various locations around New Zealand. They may be live-streamed. The Commission will also hold round-table discussions with key parties regarding particular themes of the Inquiry. For more information and to receive updates visit

Published in WelCom May 2019

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