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Former Māori Party co-leader Ready to march again

Press Release: 7 February 2017

Ready to march again

Former Māori Party co-leader Dame Tariana Turia is threatening to march to Parliament again.

Dame Tariana has spoken at a number of hui recently about her concerns regarding the Children, Young Persons and their families (Oranga Tamariki) legislation currently before Parliament.

She is concerned the proposed amendments give Children, Young Persons and their Families (CYPFS) the legal power to determine who will raise tamariki Māori who have been uplifted from whānau. Under current legislation CYPFS must look to the extended whānau and hapū to place these tamariki. She says that will change under the new proposals.

At the New Zealand Māori Council’s Waitangi Rua Rautau Annual Forum held recently said the devil is in the detail and concerned with amended Section 5 which includes the qualifier “wherever possible”.

“A little later on in the Principles section, section 13, we are told that where a child is at risk of being removed from the whānau that the whānau, hapū, iwi and family group should, unless it is unreasonable or impracticable in the circumstances, be assisted to enable them to provide a safe, stable and loving home in accordance with whakapapa and whanaungatanga.”

These qualifiers and other proposals give Crown agencies the power to decide who is whānau to tamariki and who should be attending family group conferences and other engagements.

Dame Tariana said the legislation cannot be allowed to proceed and if need be she would march.

“If we can walk for our land, (and) if we can walk for our foreshore, we can certainly act for our tamariki”.

She is devastated with less than three weeks out from submissions closing the new legislation severely affecting the aspirations and ambitions for all tamariki and mokopuna have barely raised a mention in the media. The Bill has been referred to select committee and the deadline for submissions on the Bill is 15 February.

Last Sunday Dame Tariana spoke in Ōtaki to a Ngāti Raukawa gathering about her concerns. In attendance were Ngāti Raukawa kaumatua Professor Whatarangi Winiata, New Zealand Māori Council chairperson Sir Taihakurei Edward Durie and Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi joining by an estimated 70 people.

Professor Winiata agreed with Dame Tariana and in a submission he helped draft said they rejected the use of adverbs “which weaken the new purposes in the Bill and contradict any intention to set high and explicit expectations and targets to improve outcomes for vulnerable Maori children, young people and their whanau”

Sir Taihakurei was also supportive and in an interview with Radio Waatea said the bill in its present form, would reduce the right of Māori to place children into a family within the whānau.

“That’s an issue of tino rangatiratanga in respect of our own children, and few things could be more vital than that.”

The meeting decided to endorse a submission as well as invite Minister for Social Development Anne Tolley, Minister for Maori Development, Te Ururoa Flavell and the chief executive for the new Ministry of Vulnerable Children to a hui with Ngāti Raukawa.


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