'This is not my shame' — Centrepoint commune's childhood survivors aim to 'shine a light' for silent victims

Three women who grew up in the Centrepoint commune in Auckland's North Shore have described their stories, shared in a new documentary, as "empowering".

Your playlist will load after this ad

Survivors Kate Rowntree, Rachel King and Caroline Ansley told Breakfast they hope their appearance in the documentary will show others the shame of what happened is not theirs. Source: Breakfast

Ahead of Heaven and Hell - The Centrepoint Story — airing on TVNZ1 on Sunday — Kate Rowntree, Rachel King and Caroline Ansley told Breakfast taking part in it was an "empowering process".

The upcoming documentary explores the origins of the Albany-based commune in the late 1970s, as well as the road to expose of the sexual abuse of some children and the drug use and manufacturing which occurred there. 

It's leader, Bert Potter, was not prosecuted until 1990. 

Rowntree, King and Ansley said they hope the documentary will encourage others who grew up there to talk about it and heal. 

Decades after Centrepoint's closure, the issue Rowntree, King and Ansley say they want addressed is the "ongoing silence".

The women recently released an open letter calling for the former adults of the commune to acknowledge what happened to the children there and for "true reconciliation and restoration" to occur.

Your playlist will load after this ad

June 19, 1985: Members of the Centrepoint Community on Auckland's North Shore are allowed back to their home, but not everyone's happy. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's about the ongoing silence. There's so many people who don't feel they can talk. But it's really about standing up and saying, 'This is not my shame. I don't have to carry it,'" Rowntree told Breakfast.

"We've done our work, we've done our healing, and now we are allowing those that need support to stand up on our shoulders and ... we offer our support," King said.

"It's the lack of acknowledgment that has been the problem," Ansley said. "There's been no restorative process that enables people to just put this aside and move on.

"That the right thing, done at the right time, to fix the brokenness that's happened in a community. In a social context, it hasn't been fixed. It's still broken."

Ansley described shame as a cancer that grows in the dark. She said it shuts a person off from the people who care about them and is "deeply disconnecting and isolating".

"Shine a light on it and it shrivels away."