The Royal Commission has appointed a prominent Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei hapū member, Julia Steenson, to the board of its Inquiry into Abuse in Care.
Julia brings legal expertise and a background in Māori governance including her present positions as director on the board of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei’s commercial arm, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Rawa Limited (Whai Rawa) and elected representative on the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust.
A former solicitor at Simpson Grierson and General Counsel for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Julia will add valuable experience to the role previously occupied by Judge Coral Shaw, who now serves as Chair of the Royal Commission.
On her appointment, Julia says she would like to create a compassionate environment for survivors to have their voices heard and have a set of recommendations that focus on the best possible outcomes for whānau in state care in the future.
“We know that 60% of people in state care are Māori and while I’m unable to erase the past, I can help to affect change in the best interest of all whānau.
This is a great opportunity to combine two of my worlds, New Zealand law and Te Ao Māori, to provide a deeper understanding of how to approach such poignant issues,” says Julia.
Michael Stiassny, Chairman of Whai Rawa’s Board, says the appointment comes as no surprise given her contribution to the hapū and the wider business and legal communities.
“Julia is a strong choice of appointment for the board. Having worked alongside her over the past three years, she carries herself with integrity and manaakitanga always.
As a strategic thinker and passionate advocate for her hapū, her combined skills and experience will stand her in good stead,” Michael says.
The Royal Commissions’ Board Members include; Judge Coral Shaw (Chair), Sandra Alofivae (Commissioner), Dr Andrew Erueti (Commissioner), Paul Gibson (Commissioner), Simon Mount QC (Counsel Assist), and Mervin Singham (Executive Director).
Cabinet has also agreed to appoint a sixth Commissioner who will start in their role after the General Election.