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Labour Must Quit Stealing Maori Parents' Rights

Labour Must Quit Stealing Maori Parents' Rights

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today demanded to know why the Labour Government seems to believe that Maori parents are not deserving of the same rights to their children as other New Zealand parents.

"In Parliament yesterday, Associate Maori Affairs Minister Tariana Turia said she believed that whanau and iwi have the same rights [to children] as genetic parents," Dr Newman said.

"This Minister - who was elected to look out for the rights of Maori - was echoing a Law Commission discussion document released in March, which stated:

`For Maori, genetic parents have no exclusive rights to possession of their children - they hold them in trust for the whanau, and the wider hapu and iwi'.

"ACT believes New Zealanders deserve the right to choose: to choose which doctor you see, where your children go to school, how you spend your money - and we also believe that parents deserve the right to choose how they raise their children.

"If Maori parents wish their children to be raised by the whanau, hapu and iwi, then that is their choice, no one else's. But if the Law Commission can claim that Maori parents should lose exclusive possession of their children, and a Minister is willing to publicly agree, how long will it be before we see this written into law?

"What then for those parents who don't want to share possession of their children? Or those who do, but on their own terms? It seems that they could be out of luck because, should they choose to fight an iwi's removal of their children, the law may not be on their side.

"No government has the right to tell a parent where their place in their children's' life is. Our Family Law already contains enough mischief that downgrades a parent's status.

"I demand that the Government clarify the rights of parents and iwi in the raising of Maori children - Maori parents deserve to raise their own children as much as everyone else," Dr Newman said.

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