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Call for Māori Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki

A call for a Māori inquiry into child protection agency Oranga Tamariki has been heeded by the North Island’s Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency. A national hui on 13th July 2019 at Ngā Whare Waatea Marae, Māngere will launch the Māori-led inquiry into the way this multi-billion dollar government agency operates against its statutory obligations to Māori. Oranga Tamariki has caused alarm with many recently due to its practices around removing children from their families.

Catastrophic figures around the number of Māori children caught up in this increasingly failing system has fuelled the tide of unrest among Māori. An overloaded workforce on the ground working with these whānau every day and the evidenced systemic failures of this well-funded government agency adds to the tensions.

In 2017, at least 45 babies were taken the day they were born, and more than half of the newborns were removed from young Māori mothers. On average three Māori babies per week are uplifted by Oranga Tamariki. Māori organisations say Oranga Tamariki prioritises the removal of children from the whānau unit without sufficient investigation, and also fails to form any meaningful partnership with whānau, hapū or iwi.

“Oranga Tamariki manages our most vulnerable and has failed 14 reviews in 22 years - and still not one iwi group has been statutorily accepted to look after our own tamariki. When this agency fails, it gets another budget boost,” says Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency Chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait.

Oranga Tamariki reported 7,500 children in their care and protection last year, in 6 months 220 of these children went on to be abused while in their care – 70% were tamariki Māori. Budget 2019 provided them with an additional $1b.

Driven by a powerhouse of Māori leadership the call comes from the likes of Dame Tariana Turia, who recently called for the resignation of the Oranga Tamariki CEO. As well as Whānau Ora champion Emeritus Professor Sir Mason Durie, Te Kohanga Reo founder Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, esteemed educator Sir Toby Curtis, founding director of the Waitangi Tribunal Sir Wira Gardener, Iwi leader Dame Naida Glavish, and urban Māori advocate Dame June Mariu. The North Island’s Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency will host and provide the necessary support for this inquiry.

“A Māori child is six times more likely to be uplifted than a non-Māori child. So as Māori, we are saying with definite deliberation that we need an approach that is for Māori, by Māori with Māori. There are systemic failures that are seeing tamariki taken from their whānau, from their whakapapa connections, from their whole sense of who they are. Their identity is left in tatters, this is the creation of a lost generation,” says Merepeka Raukawa-Tait.

“Whānau are the core of a healthy and thriving society; we must stand together and strive for our vision of success. That is Māori leading their solutions for their own people. It’s about building upon the dreams and aspiration that families have. It’s about collectivism, working together to activate solutions. Most of all, it’s about caring and protecting the next generation – our tamariki, who carry the future on their shoulders.”

Nau mai, haere mai. We welcome you to join us at the Māori Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki Hui on 13 July 2019 at 10:00am at Ngā Whare Waatea Marae, 31 Calthorp Close, Māngere, Auckland

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