Sir Anand Satyanand to step down as Chair of Abuse in Care Inquiry

6 August 2019

The Chair of the Abuse in Care Inquiry, Sir Anand Satyanand, has announced his resignation, to take effect in November.

Sir Anand was appointed Chair of the Inquiry following its establishment by the Government in February 2018.

Sir Anand said that “it has been a privilege to Chair the Abuse in Care Inquiry during its setup phase.”

“When the Terms of Reference were announced by the Government in November 2018, the scope of the Inquiry was widened to include faith-based institutions and the scale of the work increased markedly.

 “Because of that and the fact that the ‘set-up’ and development phase of the Inquiry is nearly complete, I have opted to step aside for a new Chair who can lead the Inquiry through to the completion of this important process,” he said.

“It has been both heartening and heart-breaking for the Commissioners and I to hear from survivors first-hand about their experiences of abuse. Sharing your experience takes courage and determination and I have admiration and respect for the survivors we’ve heard from for their bravery.

“The scale and the trauma of the emotional, physical and sexual abuse experienced by many people in this country is profound.

“The Abuse in Care Inquiry is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change how New Zealand cares for children, young people and vulnerable adults.

“I am sure, when implemented by Government, this Inquiry's recommendations will see children and young people supported to thrive in safe environments, not abused or neglected.

Abuse in Care Executive Director Mervin Singham said the Inquiry’s work to date is due in large measure to Sir Anand’s drive and determination.

“It was Sir Anand who pushed for the inclusion in the Inquiry of faith-based institutions, reference to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and discretion around the dates (i.e. before 1950 and after 1999).

“It is noteworthy that the Government accepted the recommendations as appropriate and necessary, and supports the direction the Inquiry is taking,” said Mr Singham.

The Commission’s significant progress under Sir Anand’s leadership includes:

  • Building a complex organisation - including policies, processes, a significant back office and work programme – from scratch.
  • Taking the opportunity to consult widely with stakeholders and survivors and suggest major changes to the original Terms of Reference.
  • Beginning the process of private sessions; over 75 have been held to date and received overwhelmingly positive feedback from those who took part.
  • Holding a Preliminary hearing in June and preparing for a Procedural hearing (scheduled for 19 August in Auckland)
  • Appointing the Survivor Advisory Group of Experts and holding its first meeting.

Sir Anand will leave the Royal Commission in November following the first public contextual hearing (29 October – 8 November) where Commissioners will hear evidence from expert witnesses.

He has today been appointed Chancellor of the University of Waikato for a part time governance and ceremonial role over a 4-year term.

The Government will appoint a new Chair of the Abuse in Care Inquiry by November.

Media contact: media@abuseincare.org.nz; 0276276108