Waitangi Tribunal Report On Oranga Tamariki Urgent Inquiry – ‘Watershed Moment’ Say Māori Leaders

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It’s official. Oranga Tamariki is beyond repair.

That’s one of the key findings of the Waitangi Tribunal in the Children’s Ministry – Oranga Tamariki – as laid out in its 286 page report released today

‘He pāharakeke, he rito whakakīkinga whāruarua’ Oranga Tamariki Urgent Inquiry, is a “watershed moment” say Māori leaders given the magnitude of reform it contains that validates Māori tino rangatiratanga.

Significant legislative, policy and structural changes have all been recommended including the creation of a Māori Transition Authority. The Crown must step back and trust Māori to lead the task of designing the new entity.

The Tribunal has also completely endorsed the Māori-led Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki and the collective wisdom of its Governance Group, a powerhouse of Rangatira Māori from across Aotearoa.

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Lady Tureiti Moxon, Chair of the National Urban Māori Authority who was a member of the Governance Group for the Māori-led Inquiry says, “I am absolutely mind blown by it – because everything we’ve been pushing hard for in terms of ‘by Māori, for Māori’ or mana motuhake and an independent Māori Authority, has been validated.”

Moxon is hopeful more consecutive courageous decisions will be made by the government to enable Māori to self-determine and the mechanisms be protected by legislation so it has teeth.

“In the end the Minister has to be prepared to pass over power to others – to share that power and the resources with Māori. While there is a lot of work yet to be done, it gives us a clear mandate just like the Māori Health Authority, so this is a good way forward for all of us.”

While the Tribunal was scathing of the policies and practices of Oranga Tamariki, in striking contrast it recognised the resiliency of whānau Māori in the face of systemic racism and material deprivation to maintain their culture and connection, and to pass this taonga to the next generation.

“People who are poor living in poverty because of the colonised history of this country have just as much an equal right to meet their children’s needs as do all of those people who are better-off in society,” Lady Tureiti says.

The Tribunal was clear that inequality and the disparities in child protection, education, justice, and health are not the inevitable outcomes of individual choice but are substantially the outcomes of the State through legislation, policy, and economic settings.

It says that the Crown must step aside in favour of Māori to be the architects of a new system – led by the Māori Inquiry Governance Group with support from the original lead claimants who brought the matter to the Tribunal in the first place.

“Alongside the 51 claimants and 9 lead claimants, I wish to acknowledge the outstanding support, courage and tenacity of the Māori Inquiry Governance Group, National Urban Māori Authority Trustees, Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency, Waipareira Trust, Manukau Urban Māori Authority, Te Roopu Awhina and Te Kōhao Health behind this kaupapa,” Lady Tureiti says.

The seed that started the process, the confronting Newsroom documentary of the 2019 attempted uplift in Hastings was credited by the Tribunal as the case for “substantial reform” and a mandatory watch for all Ministers of government.

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