Lowe became a resident at the Salvation Army-run Cecilia Whatman Home in Masterton at the age of nine. She was entrusted into care there between 1958 and 1961, after her mother died and her elderly father was no longer able to look after her.
Lowe said she suffered a litany of abuse at the home, involving neglect and beatings. After her father confronted Whatman management about his daughter’s complaints, Lowe was moved on to various foster homes under the supervision of the Department of Social Welfare, a period during which she said she suffered sexual abuse and further beatings.
One file note viewed by RNZ shows Lowe’s father informed a child welfare officer in September 1962 that his daughter’s first foster carer objected to her being sent to her new foster parents – who had expressed a desire to adopt her – because the father of that household was “a sexual pervert”.
Lowe’s father told the case officer this accusation had since been substantiated, as his daughter had alerted him to her repeated sexual abuse at the hands of the man. Her father was told it was too late to withdraw his consent for the couple to care for his daughter as an interim order of adoption had been made, and only a magistrate could revoke it.