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Maori Support Anti Child-Abuse Campaign

PRESS RELEASE

30TH October 2007

Maori Support Anti Child-Abuse Campaign


New Zealanders hurt their children more than any other OECD country in the world and Maori children are five times more likely to be killed than non-Maori kids. The latest victim to come to light is Jyniah Te Awa of Manurewa who died recently with a woman now being charged with the murder of the baby.

It was disturbing statistics and incidents such as these that propelled a group of concerned Maori individuals from around the country to stand together to say “enough”.

Te Kahui Manaaki Tamariki Trust (te kahui means the gathering of forces) was further endorsed in Auckland yesterday. The Trust has support from more than twenty national organisations ranging from Te Putahi Paho ( the national TV Electoral college) to local whanau advocates and also the Mana Ririki Summit-who are also committed to providing a coordinated Maori effort to prevent child abuse and family violence.

More than seventy people, representing both service providers & concerned individuals, gathered yesterday at the Nga Kete Wananga marae in Otara to endorse the aims and objectives of the Trust. Their support joins other high profile individuals including Ella Henry, Donna Awatere-Huata, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, Donna Hall and Chief Justice Eddie Durie.

Paora Maxwell, who helped set up the trust, says he has been overwhelmed by the conviction from some Commentators in the media on the Maori child abuse statistics.

“One of the reasons I wanted to set up the trust was to balance the way that Maori are being portrayed in the media,” says Mr Maxwell.

“I’m concerned that Maori culture is being blamed for violence in our communities and that the misconceptions out there, that violence is inherent to being Maori, are being fuelled by some Commentators in the media.”

Mr Maxwell says the hui was reassured to affirm that after hearing the writings of early Missionaries, in fact the reverse is true.

Ella Henry, one of yesterday’s hui’s Convenors read several written observations from some of those early Missionaries that had been compiled by Maori Writer and Historian, Rawiri Taonui, including the following from William Colenso written in 1814 who wrote;

‘Their (Maori) love and attachment to children was very great, and that not merely to their own immediate offspring. They certainly took every physical care of them; and as they rarely chastised (for many reasons) of course, petted and spoiled them. The father, or uncle, often carried or nursed his infant on his back for hours at a time, and might often be seen quietly at work with the little one there snugly ensconced’

Ella Henry asked the hui what had happened to change this state of affairs?

“Together with the dual evils of colonization and urbanization in the 1950’s which has resulted in an intergenerational cycle of poverty, alcohol & drug use, hopelessness and frustration, these are all contributing factors. We say this not to excuse the actions of child-abusers but more as an analysis of what has happened to te iwi Maori over the last 150 years” she said.

Paora Maxwell, of the Trust, said that the lastest victim,Jyniah Te Awa,is more than likely to have come from an impoverished background and he said Te Kahui Manaaki Tamariki are committed to doing whatever it takes to bring about change in New Zealand so that innocent tamariki, like Jyniah, live full & happy lives . Following it’s endorsement by other organisations in the weekend their plan of action for the next year is clear he said.

“The Trust in the first instance will get behind Hone Kaa’s Summit on child abuse, Te Mana Ririki, which will be held towards the end of November. Te Kahui will need to consolidate it’s foundations and work on raising the monies needed for a secretariat to service the all important information collation and the communications arm of the new Trust” he said.

The official launch of Te Kahui Manaaki Tamariki and the fund-raising schedule will be annouced before the end of the year.

ENDS


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