Oranga Tamariki implosion: Labour should thank their stars NZers are distracted by Lockdown


The entire Labour Party Cabinet should be on their knees thanking God that the current Covid lockdown is distracting the attention of almost every Kiwi because if we weren’t so distracted, the genuine anger at what is happening inside Oranga Tamariki would be an all encompassing furnace of outrage.

The enormity of Sir Wira Gardiner’s extraordinary overreach by contacting two judges and attempting to intervene in an ongoing trial, ostensibly for grilling a Social Worker too harshly, is just so gasp inducing in its audacity that it borders on corrupt.

I have called for a very long time for Maori providers to take over Oranga Tamariki because I believe Tikanga values are far more healing and beneficial to all vulnerable children than the hollow costed values of our neoliberal welfare system that sees clients of their services as opposed to children in need.

What is happening here in Oranga Tamariki IS NOT tikanga, it is woke critical race theory the dogma of which declares no white family can give a brown child a good life.

By attempting to disrupt and influence an ongoing investigation into Oranga Tamariki taking back Maori children from a white family when that testimony is so egregiously damming of Oranga Tamariki is an attempt to not only corrupt independent justice, but also hiding the appallingly racist behaviour of a State agency using the most extreme powers a State has, that of uplifting children from parents and step-parents.

Now, one could argue that Sir Wira Gardiner was extending his protection to the OT Social Worker whom the Judge destroyed in questioning, but when you see the answers to how the Social Worker deceived and lied to the white step-family and the grotesque malfunction of Critical Race Theory making its gruesome calculation that despite telling the little Maori girl she was safe and would remain with the white step-family, Oranga Tamariki would split them up because the white step-family were too white!

I mean, sure Sir Wira Gardiner can claim the Judge bullied the social worker, but sweet Jesus look at what was revealed!

If your position is attempting to shut down a trial because too many truths and facts are coming out, isn’t that a tad on you?

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Let’s remind ourselves of the lies, so many lies that the Social Worker used to justify psychologically harming a young Maori girl because you know, the heteronormative white cis male patriarchy…

There were some early signs, however, that the social worker might be out of her depth. The review filed in November 2018 said Moana had a close relationship with her grandfather. It transpired her grandfather had died five months earlier.

And while Social Worker 1 was filing these glowing reports, she was telling others in her office that the Smiths were stripping Moana of her Māori identity. She said she felt “incessantly undermined” by the Smiths and said the couple “attempted to sabotage whānau access” for Moana.

She pointed to the Smith’s “disregard for Te Ao Māori” (the Māori world view), and said they were incapable of providing Moana with the “cultural aspects” she needed.

The Smiths had no idea these conversations were taking place.

When she was asked in court why she didn’t include these concerns in her reviews, Social Worker 1 said she did but was told to remove them by her supervisor. (The supervisor would later deny this under oath, and said any changes he made were only grammatical).

Among the social worker’s concerns was an allegation that the Smiths had asked Moana’s daycare centre to refer to her by her nickname (an abbreviation of her name). This was “an attempt to remove her from her identity”, she said.

Social Worker 1 said the Smiths raised issues about Moana’s behaviour following access visits with her birth mother, and she saw this as the Smiths “making up issues to try and get reasons to have no contact”.

Another allegation concerned an access visit with Moana’s birth mother. Social Worker 1 claimed Mrs Smith pulled Moana away from hugging her birth mother and “proceeded to wipe her down with a cloth in what looked like an attempt to remove any germs”. She did not ask Mrs Smith what she was doing, but passed her concerns on to other Oranga Tamariki staff.

(Mrs Smith would later say Moana and her birth mother were not embracing each other, and she had used a wet wipe to clean Vegemite from Moana’s hands).

Separately, the Smiths held their own concerns about the social worker, and in May 2019 they complained to her supervisor.

A few weeks later the Smiths were informed that there were concerns around their attendance at access visits and the couple would need to undergo a cultural assessment. The couple were surprised about this and asked why it was required and what it involved.

Oranga Tamariki staff told the Smiths it was very rare – some had never been involved in one – and they were unable to provide any detail on the process or guidelines of such an assessment.

A meeting was held in late June 2019 in which the Smiths were told that Oranga Tamariki was concerned about their ability to provide for Moana’s cultural needs. The supervisor told the Smiths the cultural assessment would acknowledge “the good work you are already doing to promote [Moana’s] cultural identity”, and would hopefully provide some detail around Moana’s whakapapa.

When the Smiths asked why other Pākehā caregivers with Māori children were not subject to the same assessments, the supervisor responded that it was a good question, and all he could say was that there had been issues around access.

The supervisor couldn’t provide any brochures or pamphlets for the Smiths to inform them of what a cultural assessment involved. (The supervisor would later give evidence saying he felt the Smiths may have been directing “unconscious racism” towards Social Worker 1).

The Smiths believed the assessment was a ruse being used by the Ministry as a way to find them unsuitable and to have Moana removed from their care. They refused to take part.

…deceitful tricks and race accusations with no resources provided to enable the white step-family to help the little girls cultural growth…

The assessment was conducted by an independent cultural expert. His original task had been to assess the Smiths’ understanding of Te Ao Maori and their ability to provide Moana’s cultural needs, but that changed when the Smiths said they would not take part in the assessment, and he ended up looking solely at Moana.

His report was provided to Oranga Tamariki on September 11, 2019. It included scant information on Moana’s whakapapa, other than noting she had a distant relation in Taranaki.

The assessor, later giving evidence in court, would say a Māori child growing up in a non-Maori family would “not have the same opportunity in terms of inculcation of values,” he said.

He said it would be “extremely challenging” for a non-Māori family to raise a Māori child in the correct cultural manner, and failing to provide for cultural needs could result in a child’s health being compromised later in life. He said the decision on where Moana should be placed should lie with Ngāti Kahungunu.

…The ‘assessor’ uses critical race theory to deduce that this child will do worse with white parents, which seems an extremely limited view to judge this case on!

Look, if Oranga Tamariki can find whanau to place a Maori child with at the point of uplifting a child – all fine and dandy.

The recent involvement of Iwi stepping in to be that whanau resource at the point of uplift is a great development but that’s not what’s happened here.

In this case, as with many others, the Maori child has been placed with a white family for years and told they are staying with that white family permanently, to rip a child from the bandages of emotional healing and sense of security for some dogmatic implementation of woke critical race theory is the kind of zealotry that burns books!

The Judge didn’t bully this testimony out of Oranga Tamariki, and even if he did, what has been exposed is so damning that it justified bullying.

To attempt to intervene in the sacrosanctness of our independent judiciary so racist practices by Oranga Tamariki can be hidden is so disbelievingly outside the norms of our system it’s almost a Donald Trump level molestation of due process.

The Labour Party better hope the Delta outbreak sweeps the nation for at least another 4 weeks to hide this appalling ideological implosion inside Oranga Tamariki.



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  1. If the powers that be wish to encourage foster parenting this is the wrong way to go about it. After 3 years why is the cultural aspect suddenly an issue?

    • s7AA that came into effect in that 3 year period is a key driver … as is the current practice direction which is moving away from being ‘child-centred’ to a Maori model of service deliver – not Kaupapa Maori, but something between the current mainstream approach and the Kaupapa approach.

  2. Covid aside people are talking about it… the attorney general needs to get involved to be honest.
    Both our big social agencies are seriously broken… and going be declining attendance and achievement our school system isnt far behind.

    The time for nice words and um kindness is long gone. We need hard truths and difficult decisions. We are failing the youth.

  3. NZ Criminal Organizations would usually have to kidnap or threaten Judges to get such an audience.

    What power does Oranga Tamariki have over the Judicial System? From what I’ve read above [and KiwiBlog] it sounds extremely corrupt – both Oranga Tamariki and the Judge(s) in question!

    With the likes Trevor Mallard still in power; PM Ardern and Cabinet have shown an unwillingness to confront or even acknowledge corruption at the highest levels.

    Anarcho-tyranny is a concept, where the state is argued to be more interested in controlling citizens so that they do not oppose the managerial class (tyranny) rather than controlling real criminals (causing anarchy). Laws are argued to be enforced only selectively, depending on what is perceived to be beneficial for the ruling elite.

  4. What a read! Martyn, do you really believe this sort of stuff will be forgotten? Surely this will be dragged out into spotlights as soon as the time is right. I betcha Seymour is reading your post and he’ll quietly file it away for the right moment!

    • Sam
      Agree, compulsory Te Reo fixes everything. Broken leg, World inflation, climate change, flat battery, rabies, corrupt OT officers….the works. It’ll all go away once we all speak Te Reo. Good suggestion.

      • Sounds backlashy dude. White institutions by nature are racist in the racist world that we live. Don’t be afraid of what Kendi has to say. It’s just how it is and how it’s been since 1840 .This crazy Kafkaesque scenario currently playing out at OT is not tikanga Maori, or actually behavior normal in any way by what seems to be a really nutso institution outta control! That poor Smith couple and child seem to have the full weight of OT against them for totally spurious reasons and I hope reason and justice will prevail. And a bit of common sense and humanity.

      • Just to be clear, I am agreeing with Sam’s suggestion to teach Maori in schools, not the sarcastic comment by thekraut, above.

        • I speak a few languages and like the sound of te reo. keen to learn it. but to suggest it fixes things? really? that underhand dude leaning on the judge and the corrupt OT people…they speak te reo. funny that. Corruption and wrongdoing comes in all sorts of languages. yes. even te reo. Maybe you should read Martyn’s piece again.

          • The Kraut – I speak French, and stayed all over France, but it didn’t really help me connect with my French heritage. That has come with the years, and with my own exploration, particularly of music and literature. Language is only one facet.

            Many New Zealanders live far from the lands where they or their ancestors came from, without ever visiting their roots, and may well be spiritually deprived in doing so, but just in the process of living, new roots get planted.

            I find it sad that my mother died without ever visiting the country which she left as an infant. The tangata whenua live in the land of their origins, which is a benison in light of the huge population shifts now engulfing the northern hemisphere. Nothing’s simple.

          • Maori children have the right by birth to access there language and culture and that’s that.

            It would be totally absurd to to the expect non Maori to be able to deliver on what is the governments responsibilities.

            The adopted parents did but over and above 100% of there best efforts and if garden or what ever wants more then he just going to have to get the extremely creative.

            • Sam – Get creative ? How ? The fellow has taken off ill, after botching his job. Very few of us are ever in the position to behave in this way when we bugger up. We can’t afford to, nor do we have the buffers which come from being privileged persons, or from knowing the right people.

              And from time to time, we do stand up for what we think is right, and the stressors can overwhelm us, and we say to ourselves, “ Never again,” until the next time that bad happens and we stand again, not just for others, but because we have a moral obligation to ourselves. Gardiner and his ilk may not know this, in which case they’d be better employed sharpening pencils.

              The prognosis for children taken into state care isn’t good, and the history is terrible, and now we are letting them down even more; whether government even cares is a moot point, in spite of the pr and marketing spin which is their modus operandi.

              • Who cares. Delta has granted the government a blank check to do what ever theyd like.

                You can’t blame me for a lack of imagination it’s the implementation that the government has to pick up.

            • I wasn’t aware there was a “right” to be indoctrinated into a culture approximately consistent with race. Where did that come from? There’s almost no difference between races and race isn’t culture, they’re completely different things so no reason on earth that a Maori kid shouldn’t thrive without being culturally Maori. Most of them aren’t indoctrinated into the Maori culture anyway.

              • You may not see a difference between forcing Maori to learn about the history of European superiority. First of all the European continent is on the other side of the Pacific rim.

                You can’t even get basic geography correct let alone the rest of it. That’s New Zealand for you.

                  • The clarity you seek out s in the word “English.”

                    Although scientific observations can be observed from two seperate points on planet earth, the word English could only have been introduced into Aotearoa.

                    In other words English is a foreign language from a foreign country.

                    It take an intellectual genius of the highest order to be able to relocate the European and pacific continent, in order to draw the conclusion that “most Maori aren’t even indicated in to the Maori culture.”

                    First of all You’re talking about 2 distinct geographical locations with different history, languages and cultures.

                    It’s just basic geography. That’s all. Hope that answer meets your academic and research intellectual needs and thirst.

                    And I must ask. Are you an academic professor?

        • Are you functionally retarded?

          Sign is right for disabled people to claim.

          Do I need to explain to you any further how language works or do you need to have your hand held some more around basic stuff?

          • Sam you are exceedingly aggressive in this debate. O T fucked up. End of story. Eat it and live with it.

            • Geography not your strength son.

              If we was serious about addressing the failures of orange children then everyone will know at least 200 words of Maori, sign, and England so that everyone can at the very least be able to move from A to B and feed and hi se themselves. Y’know? Basic shit.

  5. Attempted interference in the judicial process by Gardiner or anybody else, for any reason whatsoever, is audacious and dangerous and usurps the rule of law.

  6. I have followed this story and it makes me wonder why anyone would trust these OT people and be happy to work with them.Another government department that is out of control and trying to cover their butt. Roads health prisons police they all are out of control and now this same government want control of our water

    • Trevor -Alternatively, this may be the face of the separate Maori justice system which the divisive separatist activists want. They do things differently. They’re not into co-operative coexistence, or the gentle art of compromise. They moved too soon, and they got caught out, stumbling backwards.

  7. I can’t find this on Stuff tonight, Sunday so it seems to be buried already? This is one of those things that is outrageous but then becomes even worse. Gardener stood down on Monday for health reasons. Heat/kitchen and all that no doubt. Nothing on Newshub or RNZ.

    • Gardner was put into that O T job because he is Maori, and because he is a Sir. He may be able to flee from Oranga Tamariki for health reasons, but the vulnerable children can’t. Dump those knighthoods for a start, they ‘re a sick joke now and don’t transform any so-called men into anything particularly principled.

        • Ross – You said it. I just thought of saying that Gardner trying to do a cover-up was established Tory practice of the sort that Nicky Hager has written of, been vilified for, and been labelled a conspiracy theorist by that other slippery little Nat knight, John Key.

          Gardner’s a patently flawed individual, and may not even know it. It’s the other two judges involved which is very chilling. Both should be stood down right now, and face corruption charges. The process of how judges are appointed may need to be looked at also, but these two appear to have let down more than just the

  8. Oranga Tamariki sound like a disaster, they are not what I would call a public service organization. I am surprised that they have not interfered (about the kindest word I could use) in mixed-race solo parent families also although since I have no involvement with them maybe they do?

    • Mainstream and to a lesser degree, alternative media (ie. this site) really have little idea of what happens within Oranga Tamariki. Social work practice has often been far from optimal – but there are clear reasons for this such as a lack of social workers for the workload, increasing paperwork requirements for social workers that mean they spend less time with children on their caseload than previously (despite management promises to the contrary), and there is less flexibility for social workers (again, despite being promised the contrary would occur). Working at Oranga Tamariki is a bureaucratic nightmare at best and just plain cumbersome, siloed, dishonest (in some cases) and unresponsive to the needs of the children it purports to support.

  9. I’m glad you’re onto this Martyn, and how terrifying and heinous this is, least of all for the poor little girl being treated like a football in OT’s ideological game.

    Whilst I agree neo-liberalism is a problem, I don’t think it’s so simple to disentangle Tikanga or apply it separately from Critical Race Theory anymore. CRT has been adopted by Iwi elites and almost wholesale invaded Maori academia and humanities studies. Have you seen the Māori Pandemic Coordination Group’s advice? It reads like Ibram X. Kendi’s wrote it with one sole answer to rule them all: systemic racism, of course.

    CRT has massive significant narrative and political power and is going to make it increasingly impossible to support Maori self-development whilst rejecting social justice zealotry.

  10. As a former child, and a mother, and a grandmother, and a human being, I believe that Oranga Tamariki social workers trying to uproot happily settled children because they dislike the colour white, is indefensible institutional insanity, and there must be processes available to call them to account. Children as human sacrifices may be Old Testament, but all our children are this country’s future, and they deserve to be treated with love and respect, not pushed around like ideological pawns – government must take immediate ownership of such damaging practices and not even try to fob us off with the usual pr talk of love and kindness when behaving so very badly. Those poor children, abused again, officially.

  11. The woke have nothing else to do but obsess about race based theories by dysfunctional, lying people often hired solely on their phenotype and ‘diversity’ rather than actual skills. These woke then go on to destroy lives and pull their trump card of ‘diversity’ when they are challenged on poor decisions.

    In this case it seems to be destroying the chance for these kids to have happiness and security. In schools, clubs, maraes there is access to significant Maori culture available, it’s not like schools/times of 50 years ago.

    We have gone from the stolen generation to another stolen generation in the opposite direction (aka children are kept in abusive situations and abusive state care, because government policy is still racist, aka the implementation of public policy feels that a white caregiver is worse than abuse and neglect). Remember also most Maori are bi-racial – there is just as much “white” pakeha blood represented as Maori in most cases. So if a bi-racial child has access to Maori culture in schools and other places then their needs should be able to be met. Again the perceived micro aggressions (wiping marmite from hands) are found to be more important than the kids being uplifted against their will, to be neglected, abused and frightened for their well-being every day.

    Again it is a bit like my points to John Minto over his hyperbole about “the vile and repugnant racism and anti-semitism”, which sounds like a few rednecks on their usual subjects who want to keep the name New Zealand and do not agree with creating three waters, blah, blah, but now the woke wants to put them all in jail for hate speech. Remember we are in the middle of a pandemic, but this concern takes priority. The irony is that most of the post was made up of people accusing Minto of anti-semitism.

    Ok so Groundswell don’t believe in Te Reo, but ask what is more important to Maori family, that their language is represented in government departments or that the government departments actually work and get them a house, decent job, health care, food, social interaction, education and decent quality of life and of course Oranga Tamariki helping abused and neglected children, being proved incompetent liars in reports … (aka close relationship with grandfather, when the grandfather is dead).

    The woke police need to be more in touch with the reality of life in NZ for those at the bottom of the heap. I’d say Te Reo is not as high up in their eyes as safety, meth, housing, food, health care etc for most people polled in NZ, but clearly by the millions spent re-branding government property to Te Reo was the no 1 priority for politicians. Now we have the concept spreading into the race police of Oranga Tamariki.

    I think that being a Oranga Tamariki employee is probably a very tough job, but that is no excuse for allowing straight out lies and poorer and poorer practises and outcomes for children and their caregivers who become the investigated. (wonder why they struggle to get caregivers at OT anymore).

    • Hard to fault most of this reasoning. The only thing I would say is Te Reo and renaming of New Zealand is more complex.

      Some Groundswell are just racist and don’t want Te Reo anywhere. Some, like me, dislike the Te Reo compulsion that is forced upon the population but happily embrace a positive biculturalism. But we’ve gone to suppressing Maori culture in the first 100 years of NZ to fetishising it now. Neither is useful or right.

      Don’t get me started in NZ. I’m actually open to Aotearoa – but by the choice of the people. New Zealand is the name we all grew up with and have deep social, emotional, international connections to.

      Cambodia became Kampuchea, Burma became Mynamar – by compulsion of zealots seeking a Year Zero reset. Non-democratic name changes have a terrible pedigree. Te Triti you say? Explain to me how – even if New Zealand can be seen as a “forced” colonial name – that forcing it back without any say of the people now is superior justice? Underlying that is the same type of racist “anti-racism” of woke acolytes at OT.

  12. Over this year I’ve noticed that TDB & KB are increasingly aligned on many matters of public opinion.

    “It’s just a step to the left and a jump to the right…”

    The good old Standard remains an echo chamber of Govt propaganda.

  13. Sounds backlashy dude. White institutions by nature are racist in the racist world that we live. Don’t be afraid of what Kendi has to say. It’s just how it is and how it’s been since 1840 .This crazy Kafkaesque scenario currently playing out at OT is not tikanga Maori, or actually behavior normal in any way by what seems to be a really nutso institution outta control! That poor Smith couple and child seem to have the full weight of OT against them for totally spurious reasons and I hope reason and justice will prevail. And a bit of common sense and humanity.

  14. Thank you for this clear outline of this awful case. Many good points made by Daily Blog commenters. Unacceptable actions, not just by Sir Wira, but also by the 2 judges he roped in.
    Ironically, Trump’s latest speech intersects quite nicely with Kiwiblog’s stance, “Everything woke turns to shit”.

    • Hartman Abrolhos Gardiner woke ? Far from it. The guy meant to be straightening out Oranga Tamariki was a blue fellow , with at least one of his wives a National M P protege, of Prime Minister Key.

    • Sorry, I should have said that two of Wira Gardiner’s wives have been National Party MP’s. Government
      may have stuffed up being too damn inclusive and diverse entrusting the well-being of our beautiful children to the colour blue.

  15. “OT Social Worker whom the Judge destroyed in questioning.” I would have said the OT Social Worker destroyed herself answering as she did. Destroyed herself by her handling of the situation.
    The wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  16. imagine working at Oranga Tamariki dealing with some terrible cases every day and then having to get beaten over the ears by the hysterical media continually. How about Bomber does an expose of all the really good hard work the poor workers at Oranga Tamariki are doing.

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