Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Glenn inquiry 'needs new name'

Dame Catherine Tizard agrees to stick with family-violence probe but suggests rebranding

Dame Catherine Tizard is impressed by inquiry chief Kirsten Rei and co-chairman Gregory Fortuin. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Dame Catherine Tizard is impressed by inquiry chief Kirsten Rei and co-chairman Gregory Fortuin. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Former Governor-General Dame Catherine Tizard says the Glenn inquiry into family violence should change its name after losing six of its key leaders.

Dame Catherine, 82, agreed to stay on as the inquiry's patron after a two-hour meeting at her Auckland home yesterday with its new chief executive, Kirsten Rei, and its sole remaining co-chairman, former Race Relations Conciliator Gregory Fortuin.

Dame Catherine said she was satisfied the inquiry could still "move on with confidence towards achieving its objectives" despite the resignations of former director Ruth Herbert, operations director Jessica Trask, think-tank member Catriona MacLennan and the other three co-chairs, Denese Henare, Joanne Morris and Rosslyn Noonan.

"I made some suggestions about possible progress they could make and one suggestion was changing the name of it to give it a new name and a new look and get on with the job," Dame Catherine said.

The $2 million inquiry, which aims to produce a "blueprint" to tackle child abuse and domestic violence, is formally called "the Glenn Inquiry into all forms of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence in New Zealand".

But a statement last September announcing expatriate millionaire Sir Owen Glenn's decision to fund the inquiry said: "For convenience it will be referred to as the Glenn Inquiry."

Former Supreme Court judge Bill Wilson, who was appointed to chair a new governance board for the inquiry after Ms Herbert quit, denied in a radio interview yesterday that it was a "vanity project" for Sir Owen.

Sir Owen, who built up a global logistics company, also gave his name to the Owen G Glenn Building for Auckland University's business school after donating $7.5 million in 2002, and was reported to have been seeking a position as honorary NZ consul in Monaco after donating money to Labour and NZ First. His Glenn Family Foundation supports charitable projects in Otara and India.

Dame Catherine said Ms Herbert asked her to be the inquiry's patron some months ago and she agreed "if there is something useful that I can do to contribute".

When Ms Herbert told her last month that she had resigned, Dame Catherine said she needed to reconsider her own position.

"I just want to know what's going on. No one has told me," she said yesterday morning. "My concern is, now that I know none of the people who are involved, I don't really know whether there is anything that I can usefully contribute." But later she was impressed by Mrs Rei and Mr Fortuin.

"I found out more from Mr Gregory Fortuin than I have found from anyone else," she said. "Having met the new people, I believe I will stay on with them because the object of the inquiry is much more important than the personalities involved."

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