The Auckland Star columnist “Femina” pointed out in September 1934 that child welfare was long overdue for wholesale reform. “We have in New Zealand the Child Welfare Act, and while in essence and intent this Act is no doubt humane and its purpose benevolent, there’s a tendency to another kind of abuse, namely an official instead of private tyranny. The Act gives extraordinary powers to officials, who are enabled to make the gravest decisions affecting the future lives of children and young people: moreover, the whole operation of the Act is shrouded in secrecy. Not even a Justice of the Peace may pay a surprise visit to one of these homes, and parents must obtain permission from the local superintendent. Most urgent reform is required to redraft the whole Act, for as it stands it is a menace and a danger to the children. With over 4000 State wards and nearly as many more under supervision, the problem of child welfare is a very real one, meriting the active interest of the community”.
Researched and compiled by Ric Carlyon