Waatea News Column: New Oranga Tamariki Footage and censorship a shock – Jacinda must step in now

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Explosive new Oranga Tamariki footage was released on Newsroom late last week and before the weekend, Oranga Tamariki had a Judge censor the footage and have had the story removed on the grounds that it identified the 4 Māori children at the centre of the latest uplift controversy.

While the identities of the 4 children must always be kept hidden, Newsroom argues vehemently that the identities WERE hidden and I can attest that after watching the footage before it was removed, their identities were kept hidden throughout the documentary so if one were cynical, one could suggest that once again, Oranga Tamariki are trying to use safeguards for children to actually protect Oranga Tamariki’s reputation.

Newsroom are challenging the censorship.

What this latest deplorable case shows us is a neoliberal experiment now politically panicking.

Oranga Tamariki are feeling so much pressure for the casual manner in which they uplift Māori children that they are now second-guessing and reviewing all recent uplift placements.

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In this latest case, 4 Māori children had been told by Oranga Tamariki that the white elderly family they were being foster parented by was a permanent placement and the white elderly couple bought a larger house and started looking after and bonding with these children.

That bonding occurred for 2 years!

Then, as Oranga Tamariki started facing immense criticism over their uplift of Māori infants from mothers right after giving birth, they reviewed all recent placements and came up with a u-turn process they thought would pacify critics and so the decision was made to uplift these 4 Māori children back into a Māori family they didn’t know based on the argument that the elderly white couple were ‘too white’ to look after the 4 Māori children.

My guess is that this is about to trigger a backlash that will make the Orewa Speech look well reasoned.

The fundamental problem is that the philosophical values on which Oranga Tamariki were built upon are deeply flawed.

The argument was that using big data algorithms, MSD could predict long term downstream costs to the State, and those large downstream costs justified uplifting children from harm as quickly as possible.

To enable that, parental rights over their own children were legally watered down to allow Court action without a parent present. Parents weren’t eligible for legal aid if they did have their children uplifted and the only check and balance to these exceptional powers was the Children’s Commissioner who has written two damning reports on the counterproductive monster Oranga Tamariki has mutated into.

Let’s be clear, no more Māori babies or children should be uplifted to anyone other than a Māori organisation, but in cases where placement have already occurred and children told that it’s a permanent placement, a far more nuanced approach needs to be taken in regards to the welfare of those children and the blunt uplift mechanism is not one of them!

At this stage, Jacinda must step in and show real leadership. If we are printing $100billion to allow property speculators to price entire generations out of homeownership, Jacinda can throw a spare billion directly at Oranga Tamariki for an emergency intervention.

1 – No more use of big data to predict which child gets uplifted.

2 – Any uplift of a Māori child needs to see the child go to local Iwi who are fully funded for such care with a view for whanau ora to provide wrap-around one-stop services with the family to help get those children back safely.

3 – That those very same Iwi services are available for pakeha children being uplifted as well, because a Pakeha child uplifted to a Tikanga Māori welfare agency has far more chance of succeeding than a Pakeha child left to the cruel bluntness of neoliberalism as a social policy.

4 – All Māori child placements that have occurred with white families where the children have been told it is permanent should work towards a reintegration plan with Māori family, but that should be a shared custody and agreed process with all parties.

5 – The Government has an urgent emergency meeting with Maoridom to work out a new system because Oranga Tamariki is a broken model that causes more harm than good.

It breaks my heart that vulnerable children should be victimised by bureaucratic political panic. We are failing our children right now at a time when there is a Royal Commission into the historic abuse of children by the state, can no one see the irony of holding our past abuses of the State to account while perpertating them again in the present?

Our grandfathers bleed and died on foreign shores to stop a State having the kind of power over the individual that Oranga Tamarki wields with such ruthlessness.

What is the point of Jacinda’s kindness if it can’t stop suffering?

 

First published on Waatea News.

17 COMMENTS

    • right on Castro. Labour are useless. And Jacinda has no idea of what is going on . Hence her ineffective long term planning. She has none.And neither does her clusterfuck of a government.

        • Lesser of two evils tosh again! Trying to justify Jacinda’s studied incompetence by alleging there is a worse alternative is an exercise in futility. Intentionally handing a child over to a convicted pedophile would be worse than Judith Collins, but really that tells us nothing, offers no redress for the child and fixes nothing. Anyone can dream up a ‘worse’ alternative but it is meaningless. Especially in this instance where MMP has failed and brought back the two party, my way or the highway system of governance.

          There needs to be a push from all of us citizens of Aotearoa to ensure that all parliamentary candidates compete on an equal footing. The 5% ‘threshold’ must go. Top-ups from some slimy corporation or a similar exponent of self interest must be banned.
          The law should be resolute in demanding all candidates receive exactly the same amount of coverage from all the media.
          We know that the vast majority of kiwis like just about all humans spread about this planet, believe that children should never be placed in harm’s way, yet because of the inane budgetary restrictions – nonsense in a fiat currency system such as Aotearoa’s and a person of regressive mind set gaining control, many kiwi children are placed in harm’s way every year.
          If we ensure everyone rather than just bourgeois centrists who make up the domineering cohort are represented in government, then we will get a parliament far more representative of all kiwis, with no one gang dominating the mix, in which case the notion of some evil greedy gaining complete power would be the stuff of dystopian fantasy.

  1. You see Bomber what I don’t get here is your racist approach to this whole thing? Why can it not be a white family to take care of Maori children? I always thought the qualifier was ‘loving and caring and having the means to care’??? But it appears the new qualifier is ‘must be brown skin’.
    “You declare that” Let’s be clear, no more Māori babies or children should be uplifted to anyone other than a Māori organisation”…. reading that one would think…hmmm…racist, are white foster parents not good enough? Are they excluded on account of their skin colour? Sounds like it.

    • Herman – Usually your right wing race baiting ill thought out opinions are tolerated, watching you struggle to accept the Labour majority despite predicting Jacinda wouldn’t win must have hurt, but this bullshit needs to be kicked to the curb.

      I’m not saying it can’t be a white family, In fact I say that in the opinion piece where I am attacking OT for their u-turn here, but your refusal to even comprehend the history here of white people taking indigenous babies means you are simply too ignorant to comment meaningfully on the subject.

    • You have hit the nail on the head. This government supports racism it’s digusting that they allow such racism against white New Zealanders. I believe not all is bad about the people and that government department. But they are made examples of by picking out only the bad. What about the white people that have done much good and worked tirelessly to help these children.
      What amazes me is the short sightedness of New Zealanders, if many of these children weren’t uplifted they would have died, where there is smoke there is fire.
      Maori condemn non Maori for the problems they have because of racim and because of colonialism by being overly represented in the health, justice and welfare, they advocate and support sepretism. So why doesn’t the government assess what it costs per person to provide these services and apportion this cost to the Maori people in NZ and let them deal with “their people” This will be the ultimate proof of who is best to look after all Maori.
      If that option was tried and failed , racism will find a way to blame all white NZ for the failure.

  2. “Jacinda must step in now” !!!. (Something must be done!!!)
    Much as I like her and realise she can’t do it all on her lonesome, DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH.
    This term is going to show just how much some of her colleagues are up for the massive job ahead. And come 2023, they’re going to get some learnings in this space, going forward, that the merchants of spin, paternalism dressed up as compassion and empathy, the language of concern for the plebs, and all the rest of it aren’t really going to cut it.
    On the positive side of things, she does have half a dozen or so within her party who’re wise old owls, plus a few others cross-party (Green and MP, TOP even). It’ll be a question of whether or not she has the capability for ‘listenings’ (in that space, going forward)

  3. Ok. I will take your five points one at a time. 1) No argument there. People are not numbers and to try and break them down as such is wrong on every level. 2)Not much to complain about here either. As long as the people who are running it are suitably qualified with proper oversight. Just being Maori does not automatically make you better at anything any more than being white does. 3) And here is my main problem. How can you say that Maori organizations are better placed to look after white children. What do you base that statement on? Putting white children into a system that see’s them and their parents as the cause of all their ills cannot be good for any child. 4) the reason a lot of these children have been placed with white families is nothing to do with colour. If family placements were available they would have been utilized already. There will be reasons for the close family being excluded and putting children back with them based on ideology is plainly wrong. (don’t get me wrong. If there was no reasons for family being excluded kids should be returned but if its just ideologically driven the outcomes could be deadly) 5) The government should consult with ALL parties not just Maori to get the best outcomes for children of ALL races.
    In conclusion. I suggest that your simplistic “let Maori fix it” ideas are just as racist towards all other races as the system we have now.

    • In response.

      3 – I can say Māori organisations that have Tikanga Maori as their kaupapa IS FAR BETTER FOR A WHITE CHILD than the cruelty of a state system designed for the welfare of the state. Why is that so difficult for youth comprehend?

      4 – I don’t think you understand the problem. One of the features of the current system is to over ride the need for a long research of the family to find a suitable extended whanau member who can look after the children, this has led to a streamlining for the uplifts. A lot of the time there simply hasn’t been enough research to find extended whanau. Your wider point, ‘what’s the problem with whitey’ doesn’t appreciate the legacy of white people taking indigenous children. I’m not suggesting all Māōri children placed with pakeha should be re-evaluated – in fact I write that in the opinion piece, I’m saying that there has to be a means for birth parents to reconnect with their children and shared custody arrangements could facilitate that.

      As for your final point – “In conclusion. I suggest that your simplistic “let Maori fix it” ideas are just as racist towards all other races as the system we have now.”

      This is so contemptuous – it’s almost as if pakeha taking Māori children has no legacy whatsofucking ever.

      WHAT IS YOUR SOLUTION Let me guess – once again, Māori just have to accept (as they have for over a century), an underfunded structurally racist system that takes their children at higher rates, just like they always have.

      Just wait a little longer eh, just accept a system that is biased and sometime in the magical future the state will geta round to not being fucking pricks – that’s your solution eh?

      • I 100% support what you say here Martyn and struggle to see how what you wrote in your blog and here in your unpicking of it to explain what you say can in any way be thought of racist. I also COULD NOT AGREE MORE about the point you make in 3) about the Tikanga Maori being a far far better model for all children of any race.

  4. Being employed by Oranga Tamariki must be one of the most depressing jobs in the world. You’d need to be either a saint or really desperate for a pay cheque to work there.

    If you don’t uplift the kids they get murdered by the family (dare I say whanau?) and you get the blame for inaction.

    If you do uplift kids before they’re murdered you get blamed for stealing children from their mothers (with the media conveniently ignoring details like the child is a meth baby, has FAS or the mother has a track record of vicious child abuse)

    They can’t win.

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