MEDIAWATCH: Carmel Sepiloni’s Q&A interview on gagging Children’s Commissioner’s Oranga Tamariki Oversight isn’t good enough


“Do you have the humility to admit the changes (to the Children’s Commissioner oversight of Oranga Tamariki) could make things worse”.

That was the question Jack Tame delivered to Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni on Q+A this morning in another masterclass of public broadcasting excellence.

I have been highly critical of this Minister and this decision to remove the Children’s Commissioner away from oversight of OT and I was eager to hear the Minister explain exactly what the hell she’s doing.

The answers were appalling.

The Minister’s position is that removing the Children’s Commissioner from having oversight on Oranga Tamariki is a misrepresentation of the facts because the Children’s Commissioner wasn’t technically appointed to do oversight in the first place and that the Children’s Commissioner was passing issues along to the Ombudsmen to investigate anyway, meaning the new model of 6 faceless bureaucrats hidden inside the Education Review Office will provide all the oversight necessary.

Let’s unpack the bullshit technicalities the Minister is using to hide behind here.

The Minister is absolutely correct in stating that the Children’s Commissioner wasn’t supposed to remain in an oversight capacity. They were tacked on at the end because Oranga Tamariki’s newly weaponised uplift powers were so over the top and draconian that the Children’s Commissioner was added in temporarily as an attempt at a check and balance to state agency powers that enabled the state to take a child from a parent using nothing more than a MSD algorithm.

Remember, Oranga Tamariki is a neoliberal experiment in welfare. It uses Big Data to justify uplifting children immediately to save money in downstream justice, crime and health costs.

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Oranga Tamariki has always been about saving the State’s wallet, it isn’t about the welfare of the child who is viewed as a ‘client’.

To make the cost savings, OT had to weaponise uplifts, streamline 0800 numbers to immediate action teams, change the law over parental power to stop the state seizing your child and of course, MSD made sure anyone who did have a child uplifted wasn’t eligible for Legal Aid.

The supposed counter weight to such enormous powers was the Children’s Commissioner being temporarily appointed  as an oversight. While they weren’t funded to investigate problems (that’s why cases were handed over to the Ombudsman), the Children’s Commissioner could give vital voice to the damage Oranga Tamariki was causing.

To hide behind technicalities as the Minister has done in this interview to obscure what is actually happening is such an abdication of Ministerial responsibility we may as well start calling her Chris Faafoi the Second.

It is ironic in the extreme that as we wade through the historic abuses inquiry by the State on vulnerable children, to the point where hundreds were tortured using electricity, here is the State removing vital transparency of a Government agency that has enormous powers with few checks and balances.

These Children, these vulnerable children, must be given MORE scrutiny, MORE transparency, MORE resource, MORE genuine care. Removing the loudest voice that can actually challenge Oranga Tamariki and their extreme unchecked powers when those State Agencies have such a shameful history of abusing those children is disgraceful social policy.

The system wants to ensure it can’t be held accountable and they will sacrifice any and all to keep their neoliberal experiment in welfare alive.

I didn’t fucking vote Labour for this sort of shit!

Good interview Jack.


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      • Here we go again Bob. One minute they are completely disorganised and incompetent (more likely as they never thought they would get in and have been treading water ever since to a certain extent), the next they have this master plan that would make the Manchurian Candidate look off the cuff.

  1. +1 – NZ governments seem to have a continual problem of protecting very abused children and then covering it up or denying it.

    Making that OT less transparent and accountable is not helping.

  2. Why the Fuck is Carmel Sepuloni the Minister for Social Development after her mum was convicted of ripping off the Department of Social Development???

    • Nathan Let’s leave Sepuloni’s Mum out of this, ok ? After all, Mr Davis, the Minister for Children himself, appears to be coloured by things which allegedly happened to his ancestors over a century ago, in his attitude towards all the white ancestors of members of the Parliamentary opposition. Too much baggage should preclude persons from accepting portfolios which they may undertake with an in-built prejudice which may be counter-productive for their clients, “ clients” being a word which I use with much apprehension when it is used to depersonalise the children of the poor. Transparency about why particular persons are placed in particular jobs could be confounding.

      Urgent expansion of the Office of the Ombudsman is clearly needed, but there are still no good reasons to axe the Children’s Commissioner at a time of great need, which may be precisely why it is happening. Why Sepuloni’s Mum ripped off the MSD is a separate issue, and the answers may be various.

        • Bert. Sepuloni’s Mum doesn’t have to answer to us, or we become a lynch mob, and lynch mobs are bad news, easily manipulated, and used by each and every opportunist along the way for their own nefariousness purposes. Chances are the lady needed the money, most beneficiaries do. Or she was a bit of a crook, in which case the legal processes kick in, but it’s not like she was an MP and answerable to the voters.

          Paula who ? The woman on the front cover of the glossies at the supermarket queue whinging that politics bruised her or something? In which case she should keep away from them altogether. As I recollect she turfed people out of their homes, fell in love with Bill English’s brain and had her stomach but not her mouth closed up, and apparently is not living happily ever after. Ain’t life sad for victims of the systems…sob choke.

      • Wrong Snow White…the large scale, on-going fraud of her Mum pointed to inside knowledge via her daughter, of the processes involved…the Labour so called talent pool is very shallow.

        • Wrong Nathan. Beneficiaries have to fill in and sign yearly declarations about their personal circumstances which I think are very detailed, and several pages long. Fraud requires them to have deliberately provided the wrong information, and they don’t need any sort of insider knowledge to do this, just honesty, literacy skills, and a strong constitution.

          • Reckon…but , still the Minister Mum got convicted of fraud of her daughter’s organisation…and Labour is okay with that.

            • Nathan. Sins of the mothers? Now you’re sounding a bit like Kelvin Davis MP who seems to think that every white New Zealander is sitting pretty because their ancestors may or may not have ripped off his a long long ago.

              The fact that an MP’s mother can get convicted for a provable offence shows that sometimes the system works as it should; all law-abiding persons will be okay with that. One may ask why an MP on a high income has a mother dependent upon the state, but then again, it was Chris Bishop’s hungry father who drove around petrol stations searching for a hot sausage roll. Families can be complicated.

              • Why did Labour pick her to be Minister of Social Development knowing her families history with the Department…? Talent, not that I can see…insight, only for fraud…ability, perhaps….nothing yet to report so far..

                • Nathan I gather she was appointed under Little. I doubt that any party pries into the family histories of its politicians otherwise Parliament would be empty.

                  I gather that when the Minister’s mother’s issues came to light she was stood down, and later stood up again.

                  One would hope that first hand knowledge of problems would give politicians some insight and understanding about how less privileged persons live, but given what ratbags they can be, and having read Nicky Hager’s research into dirty politics, this ain’t necessarily so. Read “Dirty Politics “ for yourself and see how you feel about some of the slithery Nats still hanging around. It’s not a hard read, just a rather shocking one.

                  • I read the book, and the “Hollow Men” — great reads, and confirmed what I believe was going on behind the scenes…

                    So, why did Labour not appoint her to Health, Education, Conservation??

                    As for the first hand experience argument — that’s a slippery slope.

                    • Nathan. No comment. Except that suddenly I’m starting to see why they’re determined to gag the Commissioner for Children from speaking out about OT. It looks like we might be getting a Commissioner for Fruit and Vegetables though.

    • Carmel surely never knew of her mother’s malfeasance because if she did witness the terrible illegality and said nothing she to would have been prosecuted, in accordance with MSD principles and the laws of the land. At the very least Carmel would now be harboring terrible guilt if this were the case. If.

  3. Can anybody see a group of faceless government employees commenting on and criticising the adverse effects of government policies the way that successive Children’s Commissioners have done ? Of course not. This is why the Children’s Commissioner had to be kneecapped, and we know it.

    Can anybody see a dutiful Minister for Children speaking up objectively on behalf of these youngsters to whom we owe a duty of care ? Why are we waiting ?

    Are kids’ lives paused while committees assemble, and sit, and pontificate? No.

    Imagine the impact of some big brave National politician, say a Chris Bishop or a Todd McClay standing and declaring themselves to be a Champion of the Children. Why are we waiting ?

    How much collateral damage are our vulnerable young children expected to endure, while effete Ministers of the Crown cover themselves in shame ? Too much.

  4. This minister reeks of nastiness, never forgave her for her bad grace at losing to Paula Bennet in the elections.

    • Ted I think she’s vain and am now raising this issue with everyone I know, political or not. This government -sponsored myth about New Zealand being a great place for children can no longer rest upon rivers which were once clean, the green outdoors, a sound education system, and a half-decent health service. All gone.

      • You can swim in most rivers in NZ and its getting better, place pretty green to me especially the Main South Island, education system fine the kids just need to concentrate and learn and stop disrupting the class, the health service is free and does a sterling job with just a few hiccups. If people smoke do drugs and eat fatty foods they burden the health service its not the health systems fault its the numbnuts patients fault.
        You dont know lucky you are in this country.
        Stop acting like a Pom and stop whining.

        • tedheath If the education system were fine, then our children would not be failing in maths and science, and nor would our prisons be populated by illiterates who struggle to read and write. In the days when kids had single classrooms instead of noisy shared learning spaces, they performed better in the basics. Before social promotion became policy, pupils did not advance to higher levels without having mastered age-appropriate skills, university students unable to write basic assignments didn’t exist, and nor did politicians have to have paid lackeys to do their reading for them.

          Even before Covid the hospital system was crumbling with pain-ridden folk mortgaging their homes to pay for hip operations, but in emergencies it is still good – depending upon where you live. Swim away and be grateful that by 2040 most New Zealand rivers will be safe enough to wade knee deep in, and hopefully towns here and there will no longer be struck by mass outbreaks of gastroenteritis and children can once more spend a day picnicking on riverbanks.

    • Tim, Thanks. But it’s even worse for the vulnerable children in that this dreadful Minister Sepuloni has announced that her proposed legislation will be reviewed FIVE YEARS after it is enacted. Five years is an eternity in the lifetime of a child and it is far too long to be sitting around wondering whether or not everything is panning out ok. All children living under the auspices of OT have already had their young lives damaged one way or another.

      Somewhere there is a petition against the government’s incomprehensible determination to annihilate the Commissioner for Children and to silence the strongest voice our precious tamariki have ever had. I intend finding the petition now, and signing it, and I hope that others will do likewise.

      It’s a few years since I’ve gone door knocking, but I’d be more than happy to do so on this heart breaking issue. Frankly, it’s sounding as if OT itself would do children the greatest favour of all by jumping into Cook Strait and heading for the Antarctic oceans where they belong.

        • Hi Jo Thanks! I just signed it, it’s still online. Having done so, I think that I may have signed it previously. One high profile Nat shops in my nearby mall. I’m not inclined to hover around but I’ll ask the friendly workers to let me know if she appears. We were able to pinpoint a perfidious ex-leader that way. I used to report him for suspicious behaviour in the supermarket and bailed him up a few times. They are always polite in public. They have to be.

          I am very angry about this. I am rarely angered. It is completely and utterly indefensible. I’ve been hoping that it would appear in the UK Guardian.

      • /agreed
        I’m trying to exercise a little restraint since I have a deep interest in all of this having watched 4 relatives go through the cistern.
        It’s been a few times I’ve commented that I believe Sepuloni has a bit of a mean streak to her. Not only mean, but deceitful as well, and not above a bit of bullshit from time to time.
        Cargo cults are alive and well.
        The Munster of “We could always do more” – just as long as it doesn’t affect her disposition.
        Anyway, I think there’s a protest at parliament on the 18th – not that it’ll cause her to reflect. She’s another that seems hell bent on losing the next election in order to preserve Her status.
        Fuk Her and all who sail in Her

        • OnceWasTim. I put that protest in my diary, and I hope there are reminders about this, thank you. Trevor can’t turn the sprinklers on again, and I do have industrial strength head phones if another LP bully blasts out disgusting music.

          The police will be sympathetic to this protest, most of them being mums and dads with families themselves, and normal parents don’t like seeing children throttled the way that this government is hell bent on doing to the most vulnerable ones of all.

          • I should probably also say that I lost count of the number of Family Group Conferences I’ve attended in relation to the 4 relatives – both under CYFS and then OtT (Over the Top).
            In many cases, a workable plan was devised and agreed on – only to have it undermined and neutered by an ‘official’, rendering that plan bloody useless. All the boxes having been ticked with the State and its apparatus off the hook.
            Of the 4 – the first 3 will now and forever be living a life of violence, addiction and poviddy (as will their offspring probably).
            The 4th and last will shine and will be part of the 18th, having realised the old saying rings true:
            “If you hang around the barber shop, you’re bound to get your hair clipped”
            It’s a bloody shame JA didn’t include Sepuloni in the reshuffle.
            I’ve no doubt she’ll live to regret it.

            • OnceWasTim. JA will be okay, it’s the at-risk children who matter here. Well done doing your best at Family Group Conferences, and it’s a crying shame, a tragedy in fact, if the outcomes failed the kids.

  5. Yes, a fairly good interview Jack Tame conducted with Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Social (Under) Development.

    But Jack was still too tame again, as the mainstream media do still not seem to get it that so many on benefits have been shafted again, not getting much extra at all after 2 rounds of so called benefit increases. Again those needing TAS or Special Benefit as supplementary support had these supplements CUT in return for their main benefit having been increased.

    No wonder then that many long term sick and disabled with and especially without children are doing so poorly and remain stuck in deep poverty.

    The welfare system is complex and with that rotten, as very many never get much improvements at all. The government may give with one hand, and it takes it away again with the other hand.

  6. Not listening to the voters seems to be all to common with politicsians but this mob seem to be worse than most .3 Waters dropping speed limits , teachers wanting mask mandates . immegration of specialist workers in all fields, the problem with supermarkets and building supplies. With the election next year Labour need to listen and do something or they will be out of office

  7. she’s entitled has spent her career as a box ticker rising because of factors other than ability…what exactly do you expect.

    • Sour kraut. “ Why is she still in her job?” Presumably because she’s doing exactly what the masters of the universe want her to, that’s why.

  8. I had a look at the Save the Children site. They mainly are open to Facebook and I think Twitter. I think they should have their own site, Facebook is not satisfactory as their main portal and I think it will continue to have problems repeatedly. I thought I might find out what is happening to the CC matter on their site.


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