Warning: This story discusses rape and sexual abuse.
The love between two sisters shone through as one spoke of the horrific abuse they suffered together as children in foster, state and Anglican church care.
Ms M - whose name is legally protected - and her late sister - who came to be known as Janie - were both raped and violently assaulted while in a foster family arranged through Anglican Social Services from 1969 to 1974.
Ms M was again sexually assaulted only years later, aged 16, by a reverend in a family who would go on to legally adopt her.
In both situations, authorities were aware of abuse, but made no efforts to intervene to protect the girls.
"If people had truly wanted to help us it wouldn't have taken a lot to see we were being horrifically abused repeatedly, but people were blinkered," Ms M told the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care in Auckland on Tuesday.
"We were not bad children. We were abused, neglected, and left unprotected by the state and Anglican Social Services."
Janie died in 2009, age 51, from cancer, which Ms M believed was a premature death, due to the abuse.
Ms M - flanked in support by Janie's longtime partner, and a friend - thanked her late sister, whom she described as "fun-loving" and someone who "loved passionately".
"She would have stood alongside me to tell her story."
Ms M was born in Christchurch in 1962, with two elder sisters, including Janie.
The oldest went to live with their maternal grandmother as a baby. They would not reconnect until over two decades later.
Ms M and Janie had a traumatic home life, full of abuse and neglect.
They came to the attention of social welfare in 1966.
Janie was the "only mother figure in my life", Ms M said.
"She was my everything."
Their stepfather sexually abused her and Janie.
It was in their child welfare notes, but nothing was done, Ms M said.
Their mother was taken away in 1969, and they were put into Huntsbury House.
Their mother died that year, aged 29. Their stepfather killed himself soon after.
The girls came into the care of the Anglican Social Services and were placed in various homes, before a foster family was found.
Ms M and Janie were told it would be a "six-week holiday" at a farm on the West Coast.
Instead, "our foster father raped, abused, assaulted and terrorised us the next five years".
They often went to school with black eyes, covered in bruises.
"Nobody ever asked us if we were okay," Ms M said.
The foster father was also violent towards his wife, the girls witnessing him threaten to kill her with a shotgun.
He regularly raped the girls.
Ms M later found out the man would drug Janie and "lend" her out to his mates. She was between 10 and 15 years old.
It was impossible for the wife not to know of the abuse, but she did nothing to stop it, Ms M said. Nor did Anglican Social Services ever check in.
In May 1974 Janie raised the alarm with police, and a case was brought before the Supreme Court.
Despite a doctor who examined the girls giving evidence they'd both had "penetrative sex" on multiple occasions, and Ms M before she had even started her periods, the all-male jury acquitted the man.
At the time rape cases needed "corroborative evidence", Ms M said.
Subsequently the girls were branded liars.
After the not-guilty verdict social workers even considered sending the girls back to the family, but in the end - with the father threatening to kill them - they were taken to a foster home in Christchurch. The foster father died in 2003.
The girls were separated, and would not reconnect until they were in their 20s.
Ms M was placed into another home, where she was again sexually abused.
A social worker knew, but made no recommendation to remove her.
She ran away and ended up in a family with a reverend, a family she finally felt at home with.
Initially she was in their foster care, but they started the process to formally adopt her.
When she was about 16, the reverend started raping her.
The reverend's name is legally protected, as is his church denomination.
Ms M became pregnant, and told several people the reverend raped her, but she was not believed. She did not have the baby.
She did not want to be adopted any more, but did not know how to stop it. It was finalised when she was 19.
"I had been abused by every man that was supposed to look after me (except one) so I thought I am the common denominator, so it must be my fault."
When she was 28 she laid a complaint with police about the reverend, as she had learned he was fostering other girls, and she feared for their safety.
He admitted having sex with her, but said she consented.
Police stated in a letter the case was unlikely to succeed due to her age at the time of the alleged abuse, her "consent", and her previous allegations from her first foster family.
They also noted it occurred before she was adopted.
Ms M said she never told them she consented.
As she ended her evidence, Ms M called out the reverend, who is still alive.
"You lied about me, you shattered a very thin veil of trust, I stand here today and put the blame right back in your hands.
"How you take this and make peace with it is your business but know that no more will I carry your shame."
The abuse suffered as a child and teenager has had lifelong impacts on Ms M, including mental illness and addictions.
It has affected her education, her ability to work, and she has not had a relationship in over 30 years. She wishes she could have had a husband and children.
Her road to redress has also been traumatic, she said.
"I felt like I was being raped over and over again by the very system that claimed in good faith to redress historical abuse."
Ms M called for adequate compensation to be provided to survivors of abuse in state and faith-based care. Something that could "make me happy ... feel a little secure".
The commissioners were visibly moved by Ms M's evidence, as were all in the room.
Commissioner Sandra Alofivae thanked Ms M for sharing her experience, and for "bringing Janie's story to life".
"Thank you for caring about our nation enough, for speaking up on behalf of others who might not otherwise come forward."
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