Māori former foster child wants to help improve NZ's foster care system

By Rahia Timutimu

A Māori man is aiming to help improve the current foster care system in New Zealand.

After 18 years of abuse in foster care, 35-year-old Daryl Brougham received an apology and compensation from the Ministry of Social Development this year and wants to use not only this money, but also his knowledge to help those in need.

Reading through his apology letter from the Ministry of Social Development.

Daryl Brougham relives the pain he went through when he lived in foster care for 18 years.

Brougham says, “Started off foster care from 1979 until 1999. I was placed in care at 3 months old.”

In those 18 years he attended 27 schools, went through 30 social workers looking after his case and had over 50 placements. Most families were abusive towards him.

“A lot of my experience is beatings, I’ve cut grass with scissors plenty of times, I’ve been forced to eat grass, and I’ve been forced to eat spiders,” says Brougham.

Just this year he was acknowledged for the pain he went through, he received an apology letter from Brendan Boyle, the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Development.

He also received $70,000 as compensation, which he was told was at the top of the scale.

Brougham says, “$70,000 is not a lot considering what I have been through but again it’s not about the money, it was more about the apology.”

In 2010, he decided to take his case into his own hands and studied Social Work at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

He says, “When I was 10 I was told that I’d end up in jail and that I was nothing but a useless you know what, and that was from a social worker and I remember looking him dead in the eye and I thought to myself, you wait ‘til I get older and I’ll show you what a real social worker should be.”

He now wants to use his degree, and the money he received, to change the system as he knows first-hand what it's like.