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Child Abuse Needs Action Not “Maori-Bashing”

MEDIA RELEASE 30 JULY 2007


Child Abuse Needs Action Not “Maori-Bashing”


Women’s Refuge is calling for constructive action, rather than “Maori-bashing” to stem the abuse being suffered by children in this country.

The Chief Executive of the National Collective of Independent Women’s Refuges, Heather Henare, says the cases of three year old Nia Glassie and a 12 week old baby are shocking.

“These children and babies are our taonga and the abuse and injury they have suffered is appalling and should be absolutely condemned.”

However, Ms Henare says simply lashing out at Maori and accusing them of neglect and abuse of their children will solve nothing.

“We need to make sure we are not alienating whanau and that increased support goes into preventing such abuse from happening.”

“The overwhelming majority of Maori are sickened by child abuse, and deserve support and encouragement to face the challenge of breaking the cycle of violence within their hapu and whanau.”

Ms Henare says the new Maori Development Unit within NCIWR has established relationships with iwi to do exactly this type of work.

The unit, which was set up with funding from Te Puni Kokiri, has already signed agreements for two of three projects it is setting up and is close to securing partnerships for the third.

“The discussions we have had with Maori as this project unfolds have shown real acknowledgement of the problem of violence within their own communities, a willingness to face up to that and a commitment to work at grass root levels to ensure future generations are safe and can live violence-free.”

“Pointing the finger, hiding abuse and turning backs on it will achieve nothing, and that is something every single person in New Zealand has to realise.”

Ms Henare says people must accept violence and abuse are issues for every part of society to confront, and she applauds the leadership being shown by many Maori to do exactly that.

“Just playing the blame game will achieve absolutely nothing. Nor will evermore punitive sanctions, which will only serve to further alienate individuals from their whanau.”


ENDS

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