A survivor of abuse is furious the government has extended the Royal Commission into Abuse in Care's deadline for a second time.

Photo: RNZ / Patrice Allen

Lake Alice survivor Paul Zentveld said the decision was an insult.

The high-level inquiry was due to handover its report by June this year, but asked the government for more time to complete its investigation.

It will now report back to the Governor-General by the end of March next year.

The Royal Commission said it needed the extension as more evidence had emerged in the past year.

“The scale of abuse is beyond what anyone had ever imagined at the start of this inquiry,” inquiry chair Coral Shaw said.

But Zentveld, who went to the United Nations Convention Against Torture about his abuse at Lake Alice, said survivors should not have been made to wait longer.

He said delaying the commission was bad behaviour from the government.

Zentveld said the government was delaying the commission as a stalling tactic and denying justice to the survivors of state care and churches.

He said the government needed to stop putting the survivors on hold.

“Do the right thing by the all the survivors before we all die – and that is pay for your crimes.”

But another survivor of abuse in state care, survivor advocate Keith Wiffin, said he was grateful for the extension as it meant the final report could be done in a way that was fair and impactful for survivors, and considered how to ensure such abuse did not happen again.

Wiffin said survivors had waited far too long for acknowledgement, redress and an apology.

“I don’t see that as the fault of the commission, but the procrastination of the officials,” he said.

Wiffin said implementation could not be done by the commission, “it has to be done by government agencies, the government and churches”.

On Wednesday, the Crown Response Unit to the abuse in care inquiry announced the appointment of two co-chairs to a new survivor-led redress system.

Co-chair Dr Annabel Ahuriri-Driscoll said survivors had been waiting a long time for redress and their work would not be affected by the commission’s delay.

But getting redress would take time.

Meanwhile, a public apology to abuse survivors has also been delayed until after the commission’s final report is delivered.

By Krystal Gibbens
Published in Radio New Zealand