The Government Must Urgently Reconsider The Proposed Changes To The Oranga Tamariki Act Section 7AA
E Tipu e Rea Whānau Services are deeply concerned at the new Government's plan to scrap Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act. As an organisation that works with teenage parents and their tamariki who have a history of state intervention, we know first hand the benefits that Section 7AA has provided. Aside from the anecdotal evidence we know exists, there is also ample research at hand showing that tamariki Māori have better outcomes when placed with whānau, hapū and iwi. The comments from Minister Chhour worry us and the whānau we serve.
"Everyday we spend much time and energy connecting whānau to their culture, because they have limited understanding of who they are and their confidence, self-esteem and belief in who they are is low. Many of our whānau express the sense of loss they have experienced not knowing their iwi, or anything about their whakapapa or Māori culture. Why should those in state care not be supported to know their whakapapa and to be proud of their identity? It is their right. We are just beginning to see a huge dinosaur of an organisation (OT) move away from a system that created a stolen generation, is this what we will be returning to? We need 7AA to remain, to continue guiding Oranga Tamariki to do better, to aim for better, to value whakapapa, build relationships with iwi, and challenge practices that have not created intergenerational wellness. Please do not stop the momentum now " states Zoe Witika-Hawke C.E.O of E Tipu e Rea Whānau Services.
Section 7AA is not at odds with the sole focus of Oranga Tamariki, in fact Section 7AA ensures an equitable lens be placed upon the role of Oranga Tamariki. Without Section 7AA we fear that tamariki will lose their connection with their whānau, hapū and iwi and that inequitable outcomes for tamariki Māori in state care will continue - if not worsen.
Section 7AA ensures Oranga Tamariki play their part in honouring Te Tiriti. Scrapping this section from the Oranga Tamariki Act seems like a clear play against Māori rights. It pushes tamariki Māori further into a place where their identity, which is also often a mental health protective factor and provides a sense of pride and confidence on many health, education, economic and social levels, will potentially be taken away from them.
E Tipu e Rea Whānau calls for Minister Chhor to urgently reconsider the changes she has announced.