Finally a sitting Māori MP speaks about Oranga Tamariki with some mana!

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The deafening silence that has been so omnipresent over this baby uplift program by Oranga Tamariki has finally been broken by Willie Jackson who wrote on his Facebook page today

The footage of Oranga Tamariki staff attempting to take a new born baby from her mother has shocked us, hurt us and angered us as Māori, as New Zealanders and as human beings.

We temper this with the deep sadness of news last week that another 16month old has been killed and an investigation launched.

I am sick of shedding tears for the dead babies and the whanau who have their children taken. This must be our collective ‘enough’ moment.

On July 13 at my Ngā Whare Waatea Marae, in Māngere, major forces from within Māoridom like Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Dame Naida Glavish, Dame June Mariu, Dame Tariana Turia, Sir Mason Durie, Sir Wira Gardener, John Tamihere and Chairperson of Te Poumatakana Commisioning Agency Merepeka Raukawa Tait will come together with community groups, NGOs and Government representatives to thrash out what we saw, what we know and how we must come together for the sake of our children and our whanau.

Māori have had their children taken since the earliest beginnings of our nation, the legacy of state abuse hangs heavy and grim upon many of my generation, so this force by the state requires a by Maori for Maori response.

When Maori babies are six times more likely to be uplifted than any other babies it is imperative that Te Ao Maori come up with solutions.

Of course, common sense tells us that sometimes intervention must happen particularly if our babies are under threat, but this surely must be the last option after all other avenues have been checked out.

Oranga Tamariki was formed under the last National Government and as co-leader of the Māori caucus I want to ensure that the politics of kindness is at the heart of this agency. Our Māori caucus has been under a lot of pressure and rightly so and our members are all playing a part in terms of trying to find some resolution here.

We have met with the Minister, Tracey Martin and are impressed with her commitment and let’s not forget that she has inherited a huge mess. However it is what it is, and in my view it is timely for Māori to come up with a way forward with this kaupapa.

This hui must represent the corner turned because this street of despair is breaking our hearts.

…finally, something that sounds like leadership!

27 COMMENTS

  1. I agree. The Maori side of this problem is something only Maori can fix. The rest of us can help with more resorces etc but a significant change has to happen somewhere’

    • yup whanau certainly helped the kahui twins, still no justice, its whanau killing kids while the rest of the whanau look away, nia glassie, tortured daily while whanau did nothing, why didnt they do a hui then and act indignant ,and blame everything but the perpertraters, take responsability, if O.T makes a mistake and yet another baby killed, they get villified, when they have reason to believe a child is in danger and the judge sees the evidence and makes a decision on the evidence presented then signs the order, let them prove beyond doubt its a safe environment for the kids, always err on the side of caution, not hurting someones feelings doesnt save the kids, kids have to be the priority, surely,

      • “Kids have to be the priority, surely.” Yes, Rosco. Always.

        But in this sick little country adult people argued about what degree of violence can be legally inflicted on a child.

  2. I agree with Willie Jackson … that Tracey Martin has quite an impressive understanding of the issues complexities and what is needed…also Maori need to design the way forward and take ownership

    “We have met with the Minister, Tracey Martin and are impressed with her commitment and let’s not forget that she has inherited a huge mess. However it is what it is, and in my view it is timely for Māori to come up with a way forward with this kaupapa.”

    • why was she( tracey martin ) bad mouthing our mid wife Jean Te Huia i am not happy with her interview or her attitude i was a person that had confidence in her but not after that interview she sounds like the last lot just as bad.

      • Y’know Tracey Martin won’t be the only one looking at her performance sheets for the month of July thinking her ministries performance looks like a dog. I don’t care if they make all the wrong decisions I’d prefer to see them fighting for something which is a stark contrast to Minister for children of the past. They always used to say I didn’t know. Which is just the wrong attitude. The minister should be in charge, making the big decisions, charting new policy and then communicating. Y’know not communicating a whole buch of bullshit.

  3. New obligations for Oranga Tamariki

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/2018702078/new-obligations-for-oranga-tamariki

    “From today Oranga Tamariki takes on a host of new responsibilities and requirements for an ever increasing number of children. Young people can now stay in state care till age 21 with transition support and advice available up to age 25. Oranga Tamariki will also take on responsibility for 17 year old offenders who’ll be included in the youth justice system.

    The Ministry is also now required to partner with iwi more closely and to report specifically about the welfare of Maori children; new legally mandated National Care Standards come into force, and Oranga Tamariki also begins to roll out a new Intensive Intervention Service to work with high risk children and whanau.

    This comes as four separate inquiries are underway into Oranga Tamariki’s process for taking children in to care and the agency deals with an onslaught of criticism over its attempt to remove a three day old baby from a teenage mother at Hawkes Bay Hospital.

    Kathryn speaks with Tracey Martin, Minister for Children.”

  4. Willie i don’t agree with you saying the politics of kindness, it is not kindness to employ someone who knows nothing about our culture and who has recently arrived here. The cyfs regional managers are employing unsuitable people who don’t have any of the 7aa competencies they are protecting there jobs and salary.

    • Michelle: “…someone who knows nothing about our culture and who has recently arrived here.”

      I’m not sure what you mean by this; do you mean Maori culture? Or NZ culture generally? My riposte would be that recent immigrants can learn the requisite skills, just as NZers do.

      • And what about our Tino Rangatirtanga d estere bring in foreigners who can learn the prerequisites and tramp all over our Tino rangatiratanga you need to do some home work

        • Michelle: “what about our Tino Rangatirtanga…”

          What about it? What do you think it means in this context?

          “bring in foreigners who can learn the prerequisites and tramp all over our Tino rangatiratanga”

          Like it or not, this is a country of migrants. Of course OT will employ migrants: infants and children of migrants can also be put at risk by poor parenting practices and dodgy parents.

          Such migrants are also unfamiliar with the legal system here, and with NZ culture in general, let alone Maori culture. However. They are as entitled to employment as anybody else, including in OT. And they can learn.

          What are you suggesting? That OT should employ only Maori social workers? It already has many on staff; maybe that’s improved things for Maori babies and children? We can’t know the counterfactual: what the statistics would have been, had more Maori staff not been hired from the early 90s onward. Of course, it’s possible that it’s made no difference at all.

  5. Mr Lawson some whanau will always be like that but don’t tar us all with the same brush, I am sick and tired of hearing excuses when you have to revisit a document like Puao te ata tu, what does it say, we haven’t gone forward we have actually gone backwards. And i say to you Willie if your government does not give this issue the urgent attention it needs just like the Chch muslim attack you will lose all the Maori seats and you will find it very hard to get them back to. I did not go and stand on the Hutt Valley streets to help your party get elected I expect them to deliver, walk their talk or walk.

    • Michelle: “…some whanau will always be like that but don’t tar us all with the same brush….”

      We don’t. Certainly I don’t; neither, I’d add, does OT. Its job is to protect children without fear or favour. Those children in need of protection are disproportionately Maori; this is a hard reality that you and other Maori have no choice but to accept. But it by no means follows that all Maori families are dangerous places for children.

      As with all negative statistics, class – broadly characterised in NZ as income level – is very important. There are middle class Maori: we went to school and university with them, worked with them.

      By and large, middle class families don’t have the levels of social dysfunction that puts children in danger. Neither does every working class Maori family; but poverty is correlated with increased risks of a range of anti-social behaviours. It’s the way the world is.

      See this. I’ve posted it elsewhere, but a repetition won’t hurt:

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/113731528/open-letter-oranga-tamariki-social-workers-in-terrible-almost-untenable-position

      • We don’t have class in Maoridom we have whakapapa
        d estere that is English baggage so poverty is correlated with increase risk and what is racism, discrimination and stereo- typing correlated with Denise? higher incarceration rates, higher morbidity and mortality rates cause that is what it looks like to me.

        • Michelle: “We don’t have class in Maoridom…”

          Yeah. You do. Call it what you want. This isn’t the old English class system I’m talking about; in NZ, class is marked broadly by income levels. Call it SES if you like; that’s certainly the term that was used, back in the day.

          “….we have whakapapa.”

          So do the rest of us. The English term is “lineage” or “genealogy”. But we are also embedded in the class system, as it applies in NZ. Being a scion of the British aristocracy counts for nothing here: membership of the elites in NZ is marked by the possession of truckloads of money, not by an aristocratic pedigree.

          “…..so poverty is correlated with increase risk…..higher incarceration rates, higher morbidity and mortality rates cause that is what it looks like to me.”

          Exactly the point that I’ve been making on this site. I’m pleased that you agree.

          “…and what is racism, discrimination and stereo- typing correlated with…”

          I’ve already pointed out that the mean things people say to, and about, each other isn’t racism. Prejudice, bigotry, yes. Racism is the structural stuff that governments do.

          As for stereotyping: isn’t that what you’re doing to me? “people like you” – that’s what you say elsewhere here. That looks like stereotyping to me. My advice to you: engage with the debate, but leave the stereotyping out of it.

  6. The problem with what you have said Red Buzzard is we have heard all that rhetoric before so you must understand how we are feeling how aggrieved how angry and incensed.

  7. We don’t have class in Maoridom we have whakapapa
    d estere that is English baggage so poverty is correlated with increase risk and what is racism, discrimination and stereo- typing correlated with Denise? higher incarceration rates, higher morbidity and mortality rates cause that is what it looks like to me.

  8. what is nz culture d estere can you please tell me cause I was born here and i don’t know what it is ? i am talking about new immigrants getting government jobs when they don’t have the competencies they don’t know the TOW, they don’t know anything about our history or our people they can learn it all on the job make mistakes and get paid for it is that what you are saying ‘shall be right, right’ but its not right okay

    • Michelle: “what is nz culture d estere can you please tell me cause I was born here and i don’t know what it is”

      I was also born here (as were my parents; and my grandparents on one side of the family). When one is in the middle of a culture, it is impossible to see it as such.

      Perhaps you haven’t been outside of NZ much, but I can assure you that NZ has a distinctive culture, alongside Maori culture. Visit any English-speaking country – let alone other places – and you’ll see what I mean. Or take my word for it.

      “….new immigrants getting government jobs…. they don’t have the competencies they don’t know the TOW, they don’t know anything about our history or our people…”

      Well of course they’re not going to know about NZ. But they can learn. This is a land of migrants: it’d be bizarre to deny migrants work, simply because they’re migrants. If you are obliquely referring to Grainne Moss, note that she is Irish: if any people knows about colonisation, it’s the Irish. It was the depredations of the British rulers on Ireland that drove one branch of my ancestors to migrate here.

  9. Willie Jackson says: “I am sick of shedding tears for the dead babies and the whanau who have their children taken. This must be our collective ‘enough’ moment.”

    Indeed. That “enough” must entail substantive action to reduce violence, crime, and drug and alcohol problems in Maori families. Also the scourge of mental illness. It is the consequences of these factors which endanger the lives and health of Maori children. That’s a gigantic job: I’d like to hear in some detail what strategies Jackson proposes.

    Jackson also says: “Māori have had their children taken since the earliest beginnings of our nation….”

    I’m not clear on what Jackson means by this. It’s an easy claim to make, and it implies that only Maori children were taken. Sadly, the way children in general were treated in Victorian times, and during the first half or so of the 20th century, left a great deal to be desired.

    “…the legacy of state abuse hangs heavy and grim upon many of my generation…”

    True enough. But again, not just Maori children. I’ve known and worked with such people. The accounts are harrowing.

    “…so this force by the state requires a by Maori for Maori response.”

    And here’s where the questions start for me. A by-Maori, for-Maori response sounds to me like segregation: what some of you inaccurately call “racism”. I don’t see how such a response – that is, services provided by Maori and for Maori – could be characterised as anything other than segregation. But: isn’t this what we fought against in the civil rights movement all those decades ago? And if anyone proposed by-pakeha, for-pakeha services, wouldn’t everyone (Maori included) be screaming about racism? You can bet your bottom dollar they would.

    However. Something very similar is happening in many US universities. See this:

    https://www.rt.com/op-ed/461097-segregation-tolerance-graduation-ceremonies-vtech/amp/

    This is bizarre indeed, given the history of civil rights activism and desegregation in 1950s and 60s US.

    In my view, proponents of strategies of this sort (including Jackson) haven’t thought the issue through.

  10. d estere you have some pretty warped ideas to say we are racist and try and use reverse psychology is that the best you can come up with when you assimilate people you assume superiority and that is a racist practise.
    We want to take care of ourselves, we pay taxes, we don’t want people like you with your warped monocultural views who knows jack about the TOW to be involved, we want mana motuhake and tino rangatiratanga and we can’t and will never achieve these with people like you in our way i say to you step aside you have had your turn and it didn’t and hasn’t worked.

  11. d estere you have some pretty warped ideas to say we are racist because we want Maori for Maori you are trying to use reverse psychology is that the best you can come up with when you assimilate people you assume superiority and that is a racist practise.
    We want to take care of ourselves, we pay taxes, we don’t want people like you with your warped monocultural views who knows jack about the TOW to be involved, we want mana motuhake and tino rangatiratanga and we can’t and will never achieve these with people like you in our way i say to you step aside you have had your turn and it didn’t and hasn’t worked.

    • Michelle: “….to say we are racist because we want Maori for Maori….”

      Whether you like it or not, that’s segregation. And segregation fits into the concept of racism, as it was defined when I was young. A fortiori if the government passes enabling legislation for by-Maori, for-Maori services.

      Even the Maori seats and the Maori electoral roll skate close to the wind in that regard; it may be only the fact that Maori aren’t restricted to that roll and those seats which saves them.

      And just to be clear: I’m very familiar with the history underpinning the setting-up of the Maori seats. I’ve corrected many pakeha misapprehensions on that score.

      “…when you assimilate people you assume superiority…”

      That’s nonsense on every level. Assimilation entails no necessary assumption of superiority: it either happens or it doesn’t. I’d point out that, since European settlers first arrived, they and Maori have enthusiastically made babies with each other. I’m guessing that there aren’t too many pakeha families which don’t have some Maori members (my own being an example) and vice versa. No suggestion of superiority on either side. I’d argue that there hasn’t been cultural assimilation here; had there been, Maori culture would have vanished. Manifestly, it has not.

      On the other hand, social services and education have been available to all, without discrimination on the basis of ethnicity. If you want to call that assimilation, go right ahead. But I can bet you’d be screaming if some services had been segregated, such that only pakeha could use them. Yet here you are proposing Maori-only services: segregation, in other words. Would you prefer the apartheid system of South Africa or pre-civil rights US?

      “We want to take care of ourselves, we pay taxes, we don’t want people like you with your warped monocultural views who knows jack about the TOW to be involved…”

      And here we go again with the stereotyping. Do not presume to judge my cultural views, or what I know about our shared history. And – I’d add – keep that history in mind: Maori families are indelibly interlinked with pakeha and other ethnicities through intermarriage. We are all citizens of this country now; if Maori were to attempt to cleave to themselves in the fashion in which you suggest, they’d be cutting off large chunks of their own kin, who have mixed ethnicity. That sounds bonkers to me, even were it practicable.

  12. This is not a good look:

    ‘More than 220 children abused in Oranga Tamariki care in 2018’

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/111266757/more-than-220-children-abused-in-oranga-tamariki-care-in-2018

    “An investigation into abuse in state care has found more than 220 already-damaged children were further harmed in 2018.

    Of the reported abuse, 36 children were sexually harmed, 182 physically harmed, 35 neglected and 83 emotionally harmed by caregivers, family members, other children and Oranga Tamariki staff. ..

    ….and

    ‘Kaupapa-Māori approach urged for Māori kids in state care’

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/te-manu-korihi/391306/kaupapa-maori-approach-urged-for-maori-kids-in-state-care

    “Māori academics are urging the government to adopt long-standing kaupapa-Māori approaches to keep Māori children out of state care…

    “No Māori person is suggesting that we keep children in an abusive home, nobody agrees with that, but we do believe the child should be placed within the wider whānau, the wider hapū and iwi, where it does not sever the child’s whakapapa, their cultural identity or their safety.”

    You can view full paper here.

    http://www.maramatanga.ac.nz/node/1152

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