Government may do more on historic state care abuse

It’s amazing what an impending election and a downturn in the polls can do.

But on this issue no matter what circumstances prompts common sense and decency this is a welcome shift in position.

RNZ:  Govt softens stance on abuse inquiry

Between the 1950s and 1990s, more than 100,000 children were taken into state care, most of them Māori.

The government set up a Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (CLAS) in 2008 to hear from victims. It wound up in June 2015.

It also introduced an optional fast track process to resolve the backlog of claims where survivors can receive a personal apology and financial settlement.

More than 1000 have told CLAS they were physically and sexually abused, and the government has paid out $17 million and apologised to 900 people.

Survivors of abuse last week presented a petition and an open letter to Parliament, calling for a public apology and full inquiry.

Prime Minister Bill English has previously rebuffed such calls, but today said he wanted to hear more about exactly what they want.

“If there are additional steps to be taken which can help them, then we’re interested in that.

“Have we got an accurate view of the scale of what happened historically? It may be possible to find out more about that.”

But Mr English stressed that any action must not be “a large distraction of resource and focus” from the work that was already underway.

“If we can find something that doesn’t get in the way of what’s happening, then we’re looking for it.

So they are open to offers – in other words they would welcome a way out of the dead end of denial that they had stuck themselves down.

Mr English said the government would also consider offering a wider apology to the survivors.

“That wouldn’t be a problem at all.”

So do it. Soon. And do more to repair as much of the damage as possible.

Retrolens historic images

This may be of interest to some people – a library of historic aerial photographs, currently for the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Nelson, Malborough, Canterbury and Southland.

Retrolens Historic Images – Map

Also on aerial images, I see that Google Maps have updated images, at least of my area. It’s interesting to see new plantings and growings and cuttings and landscaping.

From Retrolens About:

Retrolens is made up of a treasure trove of aerial photographs that have been taken since the 1936 through to 2005. It is a Crown archive and contains 500,000 images.

This Historic Image Resource came about as the result of a scanning project that was started in 2015 by partnerships between the Local Government Geospatial Alliance (LGGA) and Land Information New Zealand (LINZ). The two organisations were concerned that the treasure was deteriorating and with fewer and fewer scanners worldwide able to read the images, something had to be done quickly before this significant slice of our cultural and geospatial history was lost forever. An initial pilot was undertaken to test out the viability of a full scanning project for the whole archive, then the project itself, led by LINZ began.

The project began with three partner regions (Canterbury, Waikato and Bay of Plenty). Council partners continue to join the project progressively from across NZ as different areas became aware of the project and have funding to be able to join the initiative. It is estimated that the scanning of the Crown archive will be completed by 2021.

The photos were taken for a range of reasons such as land management and mapping. The value of these images is in showing change across New Zealand. Key drivers for having the images scanned broadly speaking are better decision making, complying with regulatory requirements and cultural heritage with specifics including using the images to support potential identification of “HAIL” contaminated land sites, accretion and recession of coastlines, changes in areas of significant vegetation and changes in river pathways.


Historic sex offenders – squirm

Another sick old man has been sentenced to ‘a life sentence’ in prison in another case of historic sexual abuse.

Eight years’ jail on historic sex charges

A Cromwell man has been sentenced to eight years in prison for raping and indecently assaulting a girl over a nine-year period 40 years ago.

Jack Robert Smith (75), formerly of Otematata and Twizel, was sentenced by Judge Phil Moran in the Dunedin District Court yesterday.

Judge Moran said Smith had committed a range of indecencies against the girl, known to him, from the time she was 8 until she was 17.

Another victim whose life has been severely impacted:

The impact was very significant, pervading her childhood. She was effectively treated like a “sex slave”.

This impacted severely on her mental, emotional and psychological health and it was ongoing.

Crown prosecutor Craig Power said the woman had suffered depression, self-esteem and anger issues and nightmares.

Another sexual predator who now happens to be old and frail:

There were no mitigating factors but he acknowledged Smith’s age, that he was in delicate health, having been treated successfully for bowel cancer and having urinary problems.

NO MITIGATING FACTORS. His current health is irrelevant.

Defence counsel John Westgate said Smith maintained his innocence and believed a long sentence would be a life sentence given his health issues.

No acceptance of wrong doing and he accepts no responsibility.

If it turns out to be ‘a life sentence’ then too bad – Smith has sentenced the victim to a very difficult life.

Cases like this are very sad. At least a conviction and punishment may help the victim a little.

And I hope all historic sexual predators squirm whenever they read of convictions like this.

They may still be arrogant and selfish enough to think there was nothing wrong with what they have done in the past, but I hope they are continually in fear of the police coming knocking on their door.

Of course they could do a semi decent thing and front up to police, and give their victims some belated relief from their ongoing anguish.

But this type of offensive arsehole is usually too selfish and gutless to do anything decent.

At least I hope they squirm whenever they see another historic offender held to account, convicted and punished. And keep sweating on every knock on the door, and every sight of police, and every thought of the despicable damage they have done.