30 April 2021  Media Releases

Tribunal findings must spur changes for mokopuna Māori

The Children’s Commissioner and Assistant Māori Commissioner strongly welcome the Waitangi Tribunal’s call for a by Māori, for Māori approach to care and protection of mokopuna Māori following its Oranga Tamariki Urgent Inquiry.

The Waitangi Tribunal has today reported on its inquiry into the “significant and consistent disparity” between the number of mokopuna Māori and non-Māori children being taken into state care, the failure of Oranga Tamariki in its current approach to actively protect mokopuna Māori and their right to live as Māori, and what must be done into the future.

“The Tribunal’s comprehensive report is the latest evidence that the state care and protection system is not working for Māori and must be completely transformed,” Commissioner Becroft says.

“The Tribunal’s findings are an historic acknowledgment of the harmful impact of structural and systemic racism and of the consistent calls from whānau for change since 1925.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to get it right for mokopuna and whānau Māori. We urge the Government to take it.”

Assistant Māori Commissioner Glenis Philip Barbara says the findings affirm the right of Māori to live as Māori. “It must signal an end to New Zealand’s horrible addiction to assimilation.

“The call for the Crown to ‘step back from further intrusion and allow Māori to reclaim their space’ and take responsibility to lead the transformation is in itself, transformational,” Ms Philip Barbara says.

“The ‘child rescue’ model inherited by Oranga Tamariki has for decades failed to work for mokopuna Māori, and it never will. Too often it has severed the links between mokopuna and their whānau, hapū and iwi, damaging their lifelong connections, identity, and wellbeing,” Commissioner Becroft says.

“Mokopuna Māori, like all children, deserve to be both safe, and with their whānau. The idea that its one or the other is just wrong.

“The Tribunal’s call for by Māori for Māori approaches, comes as a new CEO and advisory board is preparing a blueprint for a new future for Oranga Tamariki.

“The Tribunal’s report echoes the findings of Te Kuku o Te Manawa, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner inquiry into the uplifts of pēpi Māori, part two of which was published late last year.

“Our overarching recommendation was for Government to commit to transferring power and resources to enable by Māori for Māori approaches that would keep pēpi Māori safe and in the care of their whānau.

“The Tribunal report today confirms to us that change is both compelling and imperative.

“Aotearoa New Zealand is undergoing a sea change in recognising Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its’ rightful place, and in how government works with Māori.

“The independent Māori Health Authority announced last week, mentioned in the Tribunal’s report, is representative of the transformation needed for the delivery of social services.

“After decades of calls for change from Māori, and years of tinkering around the edges, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to finally get it right for mokopuna Māori,” Commissioner Becroft says.