Waatea News Column: Oranga Tamariki must be run by Maori – NOW!


The Children’s Commissioner have just released the second part of their report, into Oranga Tamariki, Te Kuku O Te Manawa, and it is damning in its denunciation of the internal processes and decision making that leads to babies taken from mothers at or just after birth.

What the report doesn’t do is call out the neoliberal welfare experiment that Oranga Tamariki actually represents.

The fundamental core principle of Oranga Tamariki is the removal of infants and children from situations that MSDs big data algorithms tell them are contributing factors in a life of cost to the State.

By removing the child from these situations, the State hopes to lower the downstream cost to itself.

In essence, Oranga Tamariki is a means to ensure the welfare of the State, it has little to do with the welfare of the child and it certainly has nothing to do with the welfare of the whānau.

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Legal rights of the parent were watered down so Oranga Tamariki could uplift children with more ease, parents weren’t eligible for legal aid to challenge uplifts, and Oranga Tamariki has no checks or balances to such enormous power other than being caught out and shamed by journalists.

What we are left with is an organisation with massive power to interfere with people at their most vulnerable, and removing an infant from its mother at birth is surely the most brutal use of State force imaginable.

We have allowed dead brown babies to be waved in our faces with the cries, ‘something must be done’ to justify an organisation drunk on its own power with almost zero oversight to deal with the failures of society with the bluntest of tools.

Māori must take over Oranga Tamariki because their organisations come from a totally different value set. For those organisations, the welfare of the child and family is paramount, it’s not about saving the State money, and those non-Māori children being uplifted would do far better under Māori organisations than the neoliberal horror experiment led by Pakeha.

The new Minister, Kelvin Davis, knows all this, the time for reform that is beyond the white cruelty of MSD is now.

First published on Waatea News.


  1. I disagree. The best people to run this service is not Maori. It is the best person with the best intentions, experience and ideas. Be they Brown, white, yellow or green.
    The fact is that, if you insist on a certain race to lead it, you will end up with people from the elite class that really has no idea or experience of the problems faced or the solutions.
    To suggest that a person or people should be chosen to lead based purely on race is just as racist as saying they must be white.

    • Absolutely right, Kim.

      Properly qualified people – irrespective of sex, colour, religion – is in my view, the best way to get the best results in any and every field.

      When I was an MP attending a nurses graduation ceremony in Whangarie, I walked out (and later was once again rebuked by Bolger), when I was told that some Maori graduate had been awarded ‘concession passes” (or a similar description).

      Unqualified people elevate to jobs in eg health, because of ethnicity and not qualification? Not a good idea in my view.

      Many Kiwis now consider there to be a daily media diet of reverse racism. Promoting bi culturalism over multi culture ignores immigrants from diverse countries who are also New Zealanders with rights to equality and fairness.

      Of course, to say what I am saying now is taboo –

      Of course, if one dares to raise indigenous rights, in the manner I have, one is immediately vulnerable to being labelled a racist. And, am I?

      As a former Red Squad commander who played a major role in defeating protests against racism during the 1981 Spring Bok Tour, perception condemns. After all, this is the MP who challenged Prime Minister Jim Bolger live on Holmes TV over intentions to give Maori the right to arrest Kiwis who “trespassed on our foreshores!”

      The problem with the theory that I’m a racist or anti Maori, is, that on my paternal side, I am a direct descendant of Chief Te Tuhi-o-te-rangi of Ngati Mahuta, and thereby of King Te Whereowhero of Tainui.

      I also have Maori pedigree via my maternal side: A Norwegian seaman Ole Olsen, jumped ship in the Hokianga and married a local Hei Hei wahine.

      Reverting to the paternal pedigree of Meurant. My French Gt Gt Gt grandfather rocked up in Kawhia in 1835 where he married Princess Kenehuru of Tainui. Meurant became a ‘translator’.

      When he and Kenehuru passed through Auckland en-route the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Ngati Whatua gave her 20 acres in recognition of her chiefly status. Later when the tile was converted to European, she received a certificate for 10 acres.

      At that point the Crown stole 10 acres of land from my Gt Gt Gt Grandma.

      During the quantification of assets by government departments as the privatisation process progressed in 1990ies, NZ Rail realised they had 10 acres they did not own. That was the land had been stolen from Gt Grannie.
      Oh! The 10 acres? – Intersection of Remuera Road and Broadway, Newmarket, Auckland.

  2. So first the Commissioner implies that family problems are a ‘Maori’ issue (I’m pretty sure non-Maori use the agency) then solves the problem by suggesting Orange Tamariki should be run by these same ‘Maori’. Does he mean run by some talentless bureaucrats who are already embedded in this putrid public service system who see OT as another opportunity to make money off the country’s most vulnerable (with or without the waiata)? Would the Commissionerr also like to segregate every other agency in this country into Brown and non Brown units? As someone with Maori ancestry this has got absolutely nothing to do with me. Zilch. But like other citizens with Maori and non Maori ancestry I do pay for the Commissioners salary.

  3. Surely we have some talented brown people to run OT, whitey’s do not understand the intricacies of the Maori World, let Maori’s look after Maori’s and Whitey’s look after Whitey’s. Like John Tamihere states Maori’s are the best people to solve Maori problems. Maori were a sophisticated race b4 the White Man and the Muskets arrived in the early 1800’s.

    • Hongi Ika: “…. let Maori’s look after Maori’s and Whitey’s look after Whitey’s.”

      What you propose here is segregation, just as used to be the case in apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia. Pre-civil rights-era southern states of the US, too. Write it into legislation, it’s apartheid.

      It’s discrimination based on skin colour; my generation successfully fought against it. How utterly bizarre that a Maori of all people would suggest such a system be introduced into this country, which is a modern, representative democracy.

      I do not think that you have any understanding of what you’re advocating for here.

      • Exactly, what is being proposed by some Maori is separate development, which is the same term coined by white South.Africans and is apartheid. The only sector of society to have an adverse outcome if this policy if enacted will be Maori.

  4. You’ve got to be real careful. As I’ve seen first hand some of these kids are in a living hell with their so-called “caregivers” regardless of race and always involving drugs and alcohol.

    There are some genuinely good staff at OT doing a very difficult job few would ever want to do and yes OT is nowhere near perfect. And always very easy to put the boot into. But any outside lobbying and pressure that causes just one of them to hesitate to remove a child from the fire is an irreversible tragedy for that child.

    Theres not a deep state political conspiracy going on, just extremely fucked up humans who couldn’t care for a sewer rat much less children.

  5. It’s pretty racist to presume that everyone managed by this organisation is Maori.

    Is calling for this this designed to be supportive of the organisation subsequently contracting out work to Maori providers – those who believe in wrap around services for support to Maori families.

    If this organisation allows children to be killed it is blamed, if it takes children away it is blamed. The beauty of letting a Maori provider do it, is that no one can call the failures institutional racism (and so the white middle class can wash it hands of culpability – apart from neo-liberalism and endemic inequality).

    Whether Maori families will do better or not, it will transfers more jobs to Maori.

    So it’s sort of inveitable, without any guarantee it will make anything better by itself.

    • What a load of wellington public service apologist bullshit SPC.

      OT is a neoliberal experiment in welfare, the point is to remove children spy it doesn’t cost the state downstream. Those callous vicious values are wellington at their worst, Māori values that actually serve the child and the family are far preferable than wellington neoliberal experiments, and they would see ve white children far better than the current neoliberal model.

  6. One of my friends raises her mokopuna on around one fortieth (1/40th) of the:
    $12,000.00/week which the head of the O.T. public ‘service’ earns.
    This is an approximation.

  7. I have had personal experience of a number of social workers connected with this agency. They are there for all the right reasons, really care about the kids, doing the toughest job, having to put up with a lot of bullshit from the community. We are lucky to have these people.
    I am afraid the issues arent the uplifts. I don’t believe for a moment these happen for no good reason.
    There was a child murdered recently and during the court case it emerged that OT had had contact with the family two weeks before the she was murdered. Its real dammed if do, dammed if don’t.
    By all means let Maori run it. That is not going to magically solve the problem of these childrens tragic lives. it could improve it. It could make it worse. A bit of a risk really.


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