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Dames Slam Oranga Tamariki – There Are No State Excuses To Uplift

A group of prominent wāhine Māori rangatira have again hit out at recent national media coverage featuring Grant Bennett, Chief Social Worker of Oranga Tamariki that appears to justify the practice of uplifts.

“We have no faith in the Chief Social Worker and between him and the CEO, we have no confidence in Oranga Tamariki addressing their well documented systemic failures,” says Dame Naida Glavish.

Her concern is vehemently echoed by Dame Tariana Turia, Dame Iritana Tāwhiwhirang, Lady Tureiti Moxon and Merepeka Raukawa-Tait after viewing the television interview featuring Bennett.

There is no justification to severing whakapapa and no State excuses for uplifts the group says.

“We are acutely aware of the problems that are in some families. However we also know that the solutions are also in the whānau, hapū and Iwi.”

“The ongoing advent of colonization to uphold colonial structures are as damaging to whānau, hapū and Iwi as is the negative effect of alcohol and drug addictions,” says Dame Naida.

The reaction comes two weeks after Oranga Tamariki’s Chief Social Worker appeared as a Crown witness before the Waitangi Tribunal at the Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki.

At the same time the Ombudsman publicly challenged the “default position” to uplift after releasing its own damning report on the practice.

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Former MP Dame Tariana agrees. “This is about restoration and maintenance of whakapapa. There are no excuses. While we’re all clear tamariki and mokopuna must be in the best living situation for them; that is with whānau, hapū or Iwi.

“We must be bold and brave and totally accept we must be the best parents we can be. We do not expect any more or any less. We do not want our tamariki deculturated. That is long term abuse. We must keep up the fight for whakapapa responsibility, aroha and maintenance. Not Trade Me placements as we experienced in Whanganui.”

Before the Tribunal Lady Tureiti said true partnership would devolve the Ministry’s powers to a stand alone Māori Authority.

"Māori are ready, we've been ready for a long time and we are ready to take back our tamariki and they need to give them back with the full resources, empowerment that it takes for us to do this mahi," Moxon said.

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