Adoptee seeks justice for displaced tamariki

By Mānia Clarke

Wai 2575 claimant, Bev Wiltshire-Reweti is reaching out to other Māori who were taken from their whānau as children under the 1955 Adoption Act.  

Wiltshire-Reweti claims Crown policies and practices failed in their care of Māori children and are in breach of the Treaty.

She says adoption left her moving her back and forth in a system that amounts to abuse.

“{I have} a deep sadness because I had a sense of not belonging for a long time and it feels like a form of abuse,” she says.

At 62-years-old, she's still coming to terms with who she is.

“We were robbed of all our rights and our entitlements, under the legislation, under the adoption acts and the care of the child acts...We lost our whānau, our hapū, our iwi.”

Wiltshire-Reweti says the system doesn't make life easier if you want to find out who you are.

“I approached the hospital where I was born, wasn't given any information.  I approached the court where my adoption records were in Wanganui, no information.”

“So I went through the electoral rolls and I approached a family like on my adoption papers.”

Wiltshire-Reweti was adopted at 3-years-old, now she feels the need to reach out to others who may find themselves in the same situation.

“I want justice for all Māori children that have been displaced from their whānau, hapū and iwi because it doesn't just affect our lives- it affects our children, our mokos, it has a generational impact on them.”

With the help of her lawyers, Wiltshire-Reweti is looking at setting up a website which may encourage others to speak out.