State care and ending up in prison is directly linked, according to new data revealed by the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry.

A report from the Inquiry shows one in three young people placed in residential care by the state between 1950 and 1999 went on to serve a prison sentence.

The research shows Māori were even more likely to end up in prison, with 42% serving a custodial sentence as an adult.

For the general population during the same period less than one in 10 ended up in prison.

'Care to Custody: Incarceration Rates Research Report' is the first of its kind to analyse the interagency records of more than 30,000 children and young people.

Oranga Tamariki is being questioned on the startling numbers on its final day in front of Commissioners at the Inquiry.

Abuse survivor Rawiri Waretini-Karena knew there was, what he calls, a "prison pipeline" and is pleased there are now statistics to back up his experience.

"I'm someone who spent 11 years in state care, and as a result of that I got to know a lot of young men and women across the Waikato," he said.

"As a teenager I experienced prison, but what was interesting about it, having to go in there for the first time, never been there before and yet knew 80% of the people in there.

"That's because I knew them in the family homes, foster homes, boys homes."

Waretini-Karena said he shared his story with the Royal Commission in 2019, and spoke about the correlation between care and prison.

"I was also part of the lead claimants who challenged Oranga Tamariki and as a result of that I sat before Minister Kelvin Davis in Parliament and one of the things I said to him was this is my lived experience of the pipeline to prison process.

"And what he told me then, August 2021, was the statistics don't support what I've said."

Davis, the Minister for both Children and Corrections, has u-turned on that today .

"There is a pipeline yeah, and it's been obvious to everybody," he said.

He said the data that's come out today is "conclusive evidence" and he accepts it.

"Over the decades the state has ruined the lives of children and then blamed them for their actions as adults.

"Both being the Minister for Children, I want to change that system and being the Minister for Corrections, we have to do better there."

Waretini-Karena wants to see the Government really take the statistics on board.

"I would also like to see how they would utilise it to future proof tamaraki mokopuna who do end up in state care."

Arthur Taylor, who's known as a career criminal, believes he never would have had a run in with the law if he hadn't been put in residential care.

"I have no doubt that I would have probably gone to be a very productive and probably achieve very highly in any sort of aspect of society."

He was put into Epuni Boys' Home for skipping school, and was mixed with others who'd committed serious crimes.

"You mix kids who've never been exposed to criminality with kids in for serious criminal offending, what's gonna happen? People become what their peers are.

"I don't think anyone sets out to become a criminal, we were breed into them through these institutions. Sad is a very big understatement. Tragic."

The research looked at data provided by Oranga Tamariki, and matched it with data from the Health Ministry, Corrections Department and Stats NZ.

The Royal Commission is expected to release a final report from the Abuse in Care inquiry with recommendations to the Government in June 2023.

Top Image: Illustration representing people in prison. By: Liam van Eeden/Re: 

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