efe-epaSydney, Australia

New Zealand Thursday established an official commission to probe alleged physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children in state institutions between 1950 and 1999.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it was an opportunity to address historical mistakes.

"It is a significant step towards acknowledging and learning from the experiences of those who have been abused in state care," she added.

The Royal Commission will investigate all forms of abuse that occurred in such institutions, including the causes, their impact on the victims, their family members and communities, especially the indigenous Maoris, according to a government statement.

It will also recommend measures to address abuse in state institutions, including child welfare institutions, psychiatric hospitals and reformatories.

The inquiry will cover 50 years, from 1950 to the end of 1999, with the commission set to take a broad view of abuse and consider physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as negligence, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin said.

The commission, led by Sir Anand Satyanand, will begin with a public consultation on the draft Terms of Reference, set by the Cabinet.

More than one hundred thousand children and adults in New Zealand were under the care of state institutions from the 1950s to the 1990s, and many of them suffered sexual, physical and psychological abuse, according to the Human Rights Commission of New Zealand.