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Pursuing Justice for Victims of State Abuse

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GBLT3, Lecture Room 3, Law School (Old Government Buildings), Victoria University of Wellington, 15 Lambton Quay, Wellington.

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Since the 1940s thousands of New Zealand children, young people and vulnerable adults have been removed from their homes and placed under state care. The evidence that many suffered serious abuse is overwhelming. Māori children were disproportionately placed in state care, in many cases losing all contact with their whānau, hapu and iwi.

Sonja Cooper and Elizabeth Stanley are at the forefront of those pursuing justice for the victims of abuse. This is a rare opportunity to hear about the violence and neglect hidden and denied for too long, and the challenges of securing justice through the Courts.


Dr Elizabeth Stanley is a Reader in the Institute of Criminology at Victoria University of Wellington. She currently holds a prestigious Rutherford Discovery Fellowship. Her book, ‘The Road to Hell: State Violence against Children in Postwar New Zealand’, provides an in-depth account of the experiences of children who suffered in state care.

Sonja Cooper is the principal of Cooper Legal. More than anyone else she has pursued justice for the victims of abuse while in state care. Sonja and her team are part of a small group of lawyers who are developing the law in historic abuse claims. In that context Sonja has particular expertise in tort law, the Limitation Act, equitable remedies and damages issues. Sonja and her team also utilise public law remedies, such as the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, to obtain appropriate and just outcomes for clients.

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GBLT3, Lecture Room 3, Law School (Old Government Buildings), Victoria University of Wellington, 15 Lambton Quay, Wellington.

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