Generations of abuse in state care: mother and daughter speak out

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After Jane spent eight months in a padded solitary confinement cell, she decided to run away.

As a prisoner, the 11-year-old was only allowed out of the cell – which only included a bed and a toilet – for an hour a day, she said.

So she stole a horse.

She walked it as far as she imagined – to Māngere Estate, 15 kilometers away.

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“The only thing I think about is ‘I’m going to fight to get out of this,'” she said.

It wasn’t the first time she tried to run. Each would result in blows.

Jane, left, and her daughter Sarah were both abused by the state as children.  Their names have been changed because Sarah has automatic name removal as a victim of sexual abuse and to protect the identity of the younger members of their whānau, whose case is in family court.

DAVID WHITE / STUFF

Jane, left, and her daughter Sarah were both abused by the state as children. Their names have been changed because Sarah has automatic name removal as a victim of sexual abuse and to protect the identity of the younger members of their whānau, whose case is in family court.

Jane and her brother were placed in a series of houses in Auckland in the 1980s.

“I remember my brother trying to fight them because they ripped his clothes off and forced him to go in the shower,” she said of her stay in care.

She was also touched by caregivers as she was being washed in a house, but was too young to know if it was sexual, she said.

“You have that ugly feeling that stays with you forever.”

The abuse marked the start of a life marked by domestic violence, drugs and three stints in prison.

Now a grandmother, state-sponsored abuse has affected Jane and her children like a family curse.

Two children, twins, were taken from Jane. Two others – her daughter Sarah and her son Robert – were abused in a care facility.

Earlier this year, her grandchildren, a third generation of the family, were placed under state care. Things cannot report details surrounding their elevation as the case is in family court.

The names of Jane and her children have also been changed to protect the identity of the grandchildren and because Sarah’s name is removed as a victim of sexual violence.

The Royal Commission on Abuse in State Care investigates historic abuses, between the 1950s and 1999, in faith and state care. He estimates that 250,000 Kiwi children were mistreated during their care.

In March, a special hearing for Maori survivors of historic abuse, like Jane’s family, will be held.

The family have not participated in the survey so far and are uncertain whether they will participate in the specific examination for Maori survivors.

Sarah’s story

Sarah was 9 when her caregiver of children, youth and family members, Taite Kupa, sexually assaulted her.

DAVID WHITE / STUFF

Sarah was 9 when her caregiver of children, youth and family members, Taite Kupa, sexually assaulted her.

Sarah, Jane’s 19-year-old daughter, has been repeatedly raped and treated in a foster home.

In 2014, Things covered the trial of Sarah’s assailant.

Caregiver Taite Kupa, who was 57 at the time, was convicted of 21 counts of sexual and physical abuse of children in his care. He received a sentence of 14 years and six months.

the Things The story goes that he raped and sexually assaulted two girls, both under the age of 15.

He kicked and pinched children and refused to eat those who behaved badly – making them eat grass sandwiches or serving stone plates.

Sarah, who was 9 at the time of the abuse, is now ready to speak out.

She was placed under state protection after her mother was abused by a partner, she said.

Jane fell into depression after the death of her own mother and was later sent to prison for neglecting her children. When she was released, she turned to methamphetamine.

WARWICK SMITH / STUFF

Royal Commission Witness Rangi Wickliffe talks about his time at Lake Alice at the age of 10. (First published June 2021)

“The only comfort I got was drugs. Not days – years have passed, ”said Jane.

At first Sarah and her brother Robert stayed with their own whānau under the supervision of Child, Youth and Family – now Oranga Tamariki -.

But after repeated transgressions, such as running away, the children were eventually placed in permanent foster care and sent from Auckland to Kupa’s home in Whangārei.

Sarah lived there for two years, between 8 and 10 years. The physical violence began as soon as she arrived, she said.

There were several methods of punishment. One was for a child to be out of the house for hours at a time, whatever the weather.

Another was to make the children fight, while other times Kupa would just beat the children himself.

Sarah said she would hide in her empty closet, which was her “safe zone”.

After about a year, the sexual abuse started. Kupa would come into Sarah’s room at night, touch her and ask her to touch him.

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Sometimes Kupa even touched her in the living room in front of other children, she said.

“I didn’t know what was going on somehow [it was] “Make him happy or you’ll go into hiding,” Sarah said.

After months of abuse, Sarah met Jane during the unveiling of a family member’s headstone and told her everything. Jane went straight to the police.

Today, Kupa remains in prison and denies all of his crimes.

At a parole board meeting in July, he said he plans to take legal action against the judges involved in his case and will not engage in any prison rehabilitation program. .

He would also make another appeal in his case, presumably seeking leniency from the Governor General’s executive, as an earlier appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed.

Looking forward

Jane quit using methamphetamine when she regained custody of Sarah and her brother.

DAVID WHITE / STUFF

Jane quit using methamphetamine when she regained custody of Sarah and her brother.

Early December, Things met Jane and Sarah in the long, cut grass of the Māngere estate.

Jane was delighted that her son Robert was “relieved” of Oranga Tamariki’s care. He had participated in a program to deal with trauma caused by sexual abuse.

But suddenly Jane caught up – “graduated,” she said.

The program was not made available to the family after the trial, and Jane was unaware of Robert’s abuse at the time.

It left her unprepared for her act of putting knives in the walls and not wanting to be cuddled.

Jane “quit using methamphetamine” when she regained custody of her children six years ago and worked to change her life.

But Kupa going to jail was just the start for Sarah. To this day, she doesn’t like confined spaces as she feels trapped and finds it difficult to trust people.

She has also had run-ins with the police, which she attributes to her inability to control her anger.

“I understand that I have a very harsh anger, but it’s because I never learned how to handle it,” she said.

“Is this going to stop?” Or is this a model I’m stuck in?

“I don’t live in a lie, [but] I’m not living the truth either.

Where to get help for sexual violence

  • Rape crisis 0800 88 33 00, click on the link for local help lines.
  • Safe talk: a confidential 24/7 helpline 0800 842 846, SMS 4334, webchat safetotalk.nz or e-mail support@safetotalk.nz.
  • The port Online assistance and information for victims of sexual abuse.
  • Refuge for women 0800 733 843 (women only)
  • Aotearoa male survivors Help lines across New Zealand, click to learn more (men only)
  • If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 111.

Need help? If you or someone you know is in a dangerous situation, click the Protected icon at the bottom of this website to contact Women’s Refuge securely and anonymously without being tracked in your browser history. If you are in our app, visit the mobile site here to access Shielded.

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