In the 1970s, many Māori and Pasifika children ended up in state care on flimsy charges. Some received shock treatment. Entomologist Oliver Sutherland, co-founder of civil rights group ACORD, tried to expose what was going on. In this short documentary he recalls police raids and surveillance by the SIS during a decade plus campaign against racism in the justice system. Key figures from the Polynesian Panther and Ngā Tamatoa movements are interviewed, and stories of children as young as nine receiving electroconvulsive therapy are revealed. Finally, in 2018, a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care was launched.
From 1970 to 1986, I personally advocated on behalf of scores of children, whose cases I drew to the attention of one cabinet minister after another. It didn't matter whether they were Labour, it didn't matter if they were National, they weren't really interested. The department was rejecting it. [Department of Social Welfare executive] Robin Wilson said it was untrue. Well, what he was saying was that the children were untrue.– Oliver Sutherland speaks at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care, near the end of this documentary
Made with funding from NZ On Air, alongside the NZ Film Commission and Te Māngai Pāho
Closing credits poem 'Friends' by former Waikeria Prison inmate 'Robert P'
Interview with Oliver Sutherland, The NZ Herald, August 2021
Olivier Sutherland's book about racism and abuse, Steele Roberts website
Interview & video witness statement by Lake Alice victim Hake Halo, The NZ Herald, June 2021
Interview with ex Polynesian Panthers Party chairman Will 'Ilolahia, E-Tangata, May 2016
Interview with ex Ngā Tamatoa member Ripeka Evans, Sunday Star-Times, January 2009
Statement by Oliver Sutherland to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care
Website for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care