Wark grew up in succession of foster homes in northern New Zealand. In some of them she was abused racially, emotionally and sexually.
She knew her birth parents (Maori mother and white father) but had little contact with them.
At 14 she won a scholarship to a Catholic boarding school, where she was for the first time taught to value herself. Her own first two children were also brought up in foster care.
She works in Auckland, where she founded the Arohanui half-way homes, working mostly with young Maori ex-offenders and badly scarred young people.
She was awarded the Queen's Service Medal in 1986 and a Nuffield scholarship in 1988.
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