Waatea News Column: The latest Oranga Tamariki abuse case in the shadow of historic Lake Alice abuse inquiry


It is difficult to write about the latest exposed abuse at Oranga Tamariki without an intense anger and bitter sadness.

That some of our most vulnerable young children should be assaulted in such a manner by the State who is supposed to be protecting them strikes us with raging grief that can see no horizon.

First, we must congratulate the young whistleblower for having the courage to expose this violence, their empathy and compassion was fearless. Their care exemplifies the best of our social service.

Secondly, we must also thank Newsroom for their brave journalism. They are currently being prosecuted for highlighting Oranga Tamariki’s appalling reverse uplift policy and follows them releasing the original uplift footage that rocked the country. Their unwavering focus on how the weakest and most vulnerable are abused by State agencies who are supposed to care is journalism at its best.

We must also be thankful for Sir Wira Gardiner and Minister Kelvin Davis fronting so forcefully once the story was released.

But there is nothing else to be thankful for.

We see once again the grim violence meted out by the State on children they are supposed to be protecting.

We see poorly paid staff struggling to maintain standards.

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We see rotting centres that should have been shut decades ago adding to an environment where violence can breed.

We see Ministers who are ignorant of the reality on the ground.

And we most painfully see all this damage occurring in the shadow of the Lake Alice abuse inquiry where terrible acts of barbarism were played out on children.

Acts the established thinking declared were appropriate.

The shame we should feel for those historic cases of mutilating pain multiplies when you see the same behaviour playing out in the present.

For those who say injecting Māori led values into social services is separatism, what about the current underfunded model do you want to remain with?

First published on Waatea News.


  1. +1 – clearly something has gone wrong in NZ with our treatment of children – apparently we are on the UN torture watch list because of our government’s failure to investigate the torture claims from historical abuse such as the Lake Alice children given electric shocks to genitals, which have been found to be true.

    NZ is keen to give corporate welfare to billionaires and polluters and industry, but there is no ‘kind face’ (and less and less funding) for kids born in NZ or people who have real problems in NZ. Instead they try and minimise them by adding in private quasi charity/advantaged groups to fight for funding against them. (Kids Can, Variety etc)

    I’m not sure about the Maori separate health group, because I think the overall standard of care to vulnerable people in NZ is reducing (aka those with disabilities or who are abused) which is not just Maori kids, however something has to done to actually improve the results for all kids including Maori that have the most disadvantage if they are born with problems.

    I’d be more interested Marae style therapy approaches, but not just for Maori kids but all kids in NZ. I see a lot more tolerance in Maori education for example, and it would be good if that tolerance flowed through. (Although the cancel culture might hit Maori next!). That is why I think Mana party would have ultimately been more successful that the Maori Party, because it aimed at everyone in NZ who shared similar philosophy for the land and laws and could target greater numbers of people in NZ who they could represent. Dirty Politics destroyed that one.

  2. What we see are abusers and perverts who look for any weakness in the system to abuse and hurt children. How dare you clam that they do this to young boys because they are underpaid! Seriously WTF? And the “whistle blower” is not brave but human! Geeze how about looking into why these poor boys are there to begin with. Yeah, and trust “experts” that put them there—right. OKAY.

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