Statement of Te Rōpū Tautoko

As we conclude our work, Te Rōpū Tautoko recognises the long and arduous journey of the inquiry process for everyone involved. First and foremost, we recognise the impact of this process on victims, survivors, their families, and supporters. It also includes the Commissioners and their staff, and core participants and their respective entities and staff.

The aspirations of the Catholic bishops and congregational leaders for the Inquiry were clearly outlined in the Te Rōpū Tautoko terms of reference and are worth repeating in this context:

We, the Bishops and Congregational Leaders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand, participate in the processes of the Inquiry acknowledging those who have been wounded in our care. Because of, not in spite of, our own brokenness in regard to abuse we offer our lessons. They come from a place of deep humility and sorrow. All we have to offer is our own experiences and the call to justice, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, Hēhu Karaiti.

We recognise that the way to learn lessons for today and the future is to examine, understand, acknowledge and address what has occurred. We must, collectively, work towards healing.


The Bishops and Congregational Leaders believe that every person has an innate human dignity (te tapu o te tangata), therefore:

  • regard all forms of abuse as unacceptable and indefensible
  • accept the responsibility to continue to act to stop abuse in the Church
  • listen to, learn from, and support survivors
  • act swiftly on complaints and follow them through
  • ensure action on accountability is followed through for those who are proven responsible for abuse
  • support the need for the Inquiry and actively cooperate with the Commission
  • commit to ensuring transparency

Further on the Terms of Reference state:

In creating Tautoko, the Bishops and Congregational Leaders have recognised that the Catholic Church is a family, a faith community of pilgrims, seeking a collective approach to understanding, reviewing, acknowledging and addressing the learnings of the past. Even where institutions no longer exist or congregations have little presence in New Zealand, there is a collective accountability as Church leaders. The recognition is that the Bishops and Congregational Leaders must speak with one voice and, together, learn and evolve.

Members of Te Rōpū Tautoko firmly believe that they and those who have assisted them in responding to the Inquiry have upheld their core principles. Whilst our work has been behind the scenes, Te Rōpū Tautoko has stood by its’ commitment to provide the Royal Commission with whatever they required together with other documents, information and research that Te Rōpū Tautoko felt could be helpful. Reflecting on the past five years, and the massive number of documents and responses provided to the Commission,  it’s remarkable how the various entities within the church committed to and sustained support for the efforts of Te Rōpū Tautoko. Despite differing comfort levels with the Inquiry’s process and responses, this steadfast commitment is noteworthy.  To those within the Church who spent so many hours researching formal archives together with so many other records, documents and other information, we offer our gratitude.  Without your efforts we would have been unable to provide the Commission will all that we did.

The work of Te Rōpū Tautoko has significantly advanced a collective approach within the Catholic community.  At the very beginning the bishops and congregational leaders recognised how difficult it would be for the Commission to deal with so many separate entities, each with their own independent.   Te Rōpū Tautoko was created to enable a collective approach to assist the Commission but also to bring together these separate entities to respond as a Church in Aotearoa New Zealand.  Six years later the collective approach remains and this is a core achievement we proudly highlight. Moving forward, it is crucial for the church’s response to the Inquiry’s recommendations to also be a unified effort, involving bishops, congregational leaders, and all responsible leaders within the Catholic entities.

The Inquiry has underscored the systemic nature of abuse. We are all implicated by the culture of abuse that existed. While some may argue that the church's culture hasn’t changed sufficiently, significant changes have indeed occurred, though more work remains.  Safeguarding will remain at the heart of who we are and what we do for all time.  It must.

Supporting and working with abuse victims, improving safeguarding measures, developing effective response protocols, adopting a zero-tolerance policy for verified abuse allegations, and enhancing redress and support for victims are all essential actions. We must acknowledge that even fulfilling these essentials might not be enough.

Pope Francis emphasises three guiding principles: protect, listen, and heal.

Protect: Safeguarding should transcend mere compliance, focusing instead on active protection, particularly for the most vulnerable. It is a collective responsibility to prevent harm.

Listen: Genuine listening requires setting aside self-interest, prioritizing the voices of those who have suffered and the most vulnerable.

Heal: Protection and listening pave the way for healing, a pursuit of justice for individuals and a broader community effort. Healing requires long-term commitment from the Church to address past mistakes and foster new pathways.

As the Inquiry process concludes, Te Rōpū Tautoko will present their proposed Roadmap of Action to the bishops and congregational leaders. It is critical that the insights gained over the past six and a half years of the Inquiry process translate into concrete, measurable actions.

The current roadmap (available at outlines necessary steps but does not claim to solve every issue. The role of Te Rōpū Tautoko may be complete, but the mission to protect, listen, and heal must persist with renewed urgency and deeper commitment.

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