16 January 2020  Reports

Pēpi Māori and the care and protection system

Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft has released statistics showing there are persistent and intergenerational inequities in the removal of pēpi Māori into State custody.

The data also shows assessments and removals of pēpi Māori are happening earlier. There is an increasing trend towards making decisions before birth to take babies into custody after they have been born, and this trend is greater for Māori than non-Māori.

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner has published the statistics alongside some information resources to help people understand what happens when reports of care and protection concerns for 0-3-month-olds are made to Oranga Tamariki.

The resources have been developed as part of a review currently underway into what needs to change to allow pēpi Māori aged 0-3 months to remain in the care of their whānau when Oranga Tamariki have been notified of care and protection concerns.

The resources are:

  • an infographic of key care and protection statistics
  • an statistical snapshot of care and protection statistics over the past 16 years
  • a ‘process map’ style overview of relevant legislation, policies and practice requirements for Oranga Tamariki in this area, and
  • a description of the rights framework underpinning the care and protection system.

All resources are available for download below.

Commissioner Becroft says to identify what needs to change, we first needed to know what currently happens.

“I am providing this information now due to the multiple, intersecting reviews going on into aspects of Oranga Tamariki practice following the attempted removal of a newborn pēpi Māori from their whānau in Hawke's Bay last year.

“I hope the information we have produced will be useful for those other reviews and for members of the public seeking to understand what is currently happening.

“I also hope these will be useful resources for whānau currently navigating the care and protection system, and those who work with them.

“The analysis of Oranga Tamariki data does not seek to explain why these trends have occurred, nor does it yet identify areas for change or make recommendations for improvement. This information is descriptive only. Answers to these questions are part of the next steps in our review.

“Our insights from whānau, areas for change, and detailed recommendations will come in our substantive reports which will be published later in 2020,” says Commissioner Becroft.

The first substantive report arising from the Office’s review will be published in March and will include whānau voices, a literature review, and further care and protection data. This report will also identify high level areas for change that will be explored further in a second report.

This second report will include detailed recommendations and is likely to be published later in 2020.