Allegations of Abuse in Institutions
The Government has been drawn into the Salvation Army abuse scandal after revelations that many of the children in the homes were state wards.
The Salvation Army last night confirmed that state wards were sent to their 15 homes.
Major Alistair Herring said it was not yet known how many of the 36 abuse complaints - relating to alleged physical and sexual abuse in Salvation Army children's homes - involved state wards.
A spokeswoman for Ruth Dyson, the Minister in charge of Child Youth and Family, said no specific cases had yet been brought to the department's attention, but if they were they would be treated seriously.
She said the department was investigating whether state wards were sent to the homes.
Between 6000 and 8000 children lived at the Salvation Army homes between 1903 and 1993.
Mr Herring said it was not yet known how many were state wards, but that they had done a "snapshot" into records from two homes during the 1940s, revealing between 10 and 15 per cent of the children were referred by Social Welfare. "It was common for wards of the state to be referred to children's homes, including Salvation Army homes," he said.
The Salvation Army is investigating 28 new complaints of abuse since news last week that the Salvation Army in Australia had apologised for abuse of children in its care.
Mr Herring said the New Zealand Salvation Army was visiting complainants and offering assistance with counselling.
"We are deeply saddened that people in the care of the Salvation Army could be harmed and we wish to reach genuine resolution with people who contact us."
He said only a small number of people were indicating they wanted monetary compensation. However, some people in Australia had received financial compensation.
Complainants were being urged to contact police if they believed it was warranted, he said.
The Salvation Army was already investigating eight formal complaints of abuse.
These surfaced two years ago when Kapiti woman Jan Lowe began organising New Zealand claimants for possible legal action against the religious charity.
Mr Herring said that two or three of those cases were now close to being resolved. He said so far no compensation had been paid out and no cases had been passed on to police.