Māori Party President Che Wilson is angry that yet another report has detailed “persistent and intergenerational” inequities in the treatment of Māori babies by the state.
“Just two months ago, Oranga Tamariki Grainne Moss faced up to the failings of the state in the complex web of errors associated with the uplift of a 6-day-old baby from his 19-year-old mother at Hawke’s Bay Hospital.
Following four separate reviews Ms Moss finally admitted mistakes had been made, staff did not try hard enough to build good relationships with whānau or explore options to place the baby with wider family; and that as a result their actions had hurt the whānau.
“It is appalling that despite a rhetoric of ‘kindness’ and ‘wellbeing’ we have a government prepared to accept the reality that newborn Māori babies were five times as likely to be taken into state care as non-Māori babies in the last year”.
“Māori are sick of waiting for kindness to flow where it matters most – in those first 1000 days of life when our mokopuna are born into a world that should care”.
“The Children’s Commissioner has found our babies are uplifted earlier than others; increasingly even before they are born”.
“Where is the kindness being shown to our families to support them in those first thousand days. How much investment has Oranga Tamariki made into Whānau Ora Navigators to work with families the moment an issue emerges. We should be giving hope and solutions to our whānau, not just taking their children and casting our whānau to the sidelines.
“As we approach Waitangi Day and consider the long walk to nationhood our country is on, we must be brave enough to look the inequities in the eyes : if in June 2019 there were 6429 children in state care, and of those, 4420 were Māori (69%), what does that say about our capacity as a country to care for whānau Māori raising their children”.
“We know the answers lie in the hands of whānau – but we must start giving our whānau tangible, meaningful support; equipping them with Whānau Ora Navigators who can help families in a holistic way – looking at all the complex variables that impact on whānau lives. The state can not just keep on taking our kids away from us.
“As a starting point, I would hope that Grainne Moss could tell us all how many Whānau Ora Navigators she has put in place since she came to office, to provide that practical, authentic, culturally-located support right next to our most vulnerable families.
Every headline screams at us how many children the state has taken away; we want to see the dynamic change to tell us how many families the state has helped by investing directly into our whānau – not into social workers; not into Barnados or Youth Horizon Trust – but directly into working alongside those families who need help the most”.