Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Glenn adds big names for inquiry into abuse

Sir Owen Glenn's inquiry into child abuse and domestic violence will canvas 24 towns and cities. Photo / Dean Purcell
Sir Owen Glenn's inquiry into child abuse and domestic violence will canvas 24 towns and cities. Photo / Dean Purcell

Philanthropist Sir Owen Glenn has recruited four more big names for his inquiry into child abuse and domestic violence.

Former Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan, Waitangi Tribunal member Joanne Morris, former Race Relations Conciliator Gregory Fortuin and Auckland lawyer Denese Henare have been named as independent chairs for inquiry hearings in 24 towns and cities.

They will hear submissions as part of panels drawn from another 25 people who have been named as experts in child abuse and domestic violence.

All hearings apart from an opening one at Waitangi in February are expected to be in private because of the sensitive issues people are speaking about. A first two-day hearing has already been held in Tauranga and the next ones are planned in Thames, Dunedin and on the North Shore.

Ms Noonan said she and the other chairs had been asked to give dates they were available in the next six months.

"It's quite an intense period between now and October."

She has already chaired a session on women's experience of the justice system and said it was well focused.

"They are asking people to concentrate on what worked well for them, what helped, what didn't work well and what they would like to see changed," she said. "As a society we do need to do better and I do think this inquiry can encourage the process. You really need people across the community to be saying, 'This is what needs to happen'."

Mr Fortuin, a South African-born former insurance executive who now chairs Prison Fellowship NZ, said he was excited about the inquiry's goal of developing a "blueprint" for tackling New Zealand's high rates of child abuse and domestic violence.

"I feel like we actually are empowering people," he said. "If you go back to the [South African] Truth and Reconciliation Commission, even if this is the 500th person you are listening to in two weeks, treat that person as if this is the only story you heard, because for them the healing starts when they are able to tell their story."

Ms Morris, a Waitangi Tribunal member since 1989, is a former Law Commissioner and chaired a ministerial inquiry on pornography in 1988.

Ms Henare is also a former Law Commissioner and is now a member of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal. Her husband Dr Wayne Mapp was a National MP until retiring at the last election.

Online: www.glenninquiry.org.nz

- NZ Herald

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