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!