23 November 2020  Media Releases

Call for By Māori for Māori approach for care and protection

He mihi aroha tēnei ki ngā reo katoa kua hōmai kōrero ki a mātau.  He utu nui te mamae e piri tonu nei ki ngā mahara, engari, e ai ki te kōrero, he tohu hoki o te aroha.  Nareira, e kore e mutu te rere o ngā mihi ki a koutou ngā kaitukukōrero.  Tēnā rā koutou katoa. 

We acknowledge those whose voices and lived experience have informed this report.  We acknowledge the significant cost of your sharing those memories with us and note that they were given with love for our pēpi, including those yet to be born into this new world we are imagining for them.  We remain indebted to you all for your courage and hopefulness that has informed the body of this report.

Following a two-part review into the care and protection of pēpi Māori, Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft is recommending a total transformation of the current system for a by Māori for Māori approach.

The second report of the review, Te Kuku O Te Manawa, Moe ararā! Haumanuitia ngā moemoeā a ngā tūpuna mō te oranga o ngā tamariki, was launched today and contains several recommendations for government and state agencies.

“After decades of calls for change from Māori this is an opportunity to listen and get it right for mokopuna Māori,” says Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft.

“A history of patching and tinkering with the state care and protection system has failed mokopuna Māori – too often resulting in severing their links with whānau, hapū and iwi. This creates life-long damage and must stop.

“Pēpi Māori, like all children, have the right to be both safe, and with their wider whānau. It is not one or the other.

“While there will be times when pēpi need to be away from their birth parents, every aspect of the decision and placement should be managed by Māori, for Māori. The connection with whānau, hapū and iwi is central to their wellbeing and should never be severed.”

The report includes several recommendations. The first asks the Prime Minister and Cabinet to commit to transferring power and resources from Government to enable by Māori for Māori approaches that keep pēpi Māori in the care of their whānau.

Subsequent recommendations form a blueprint for making immediate changes to the statutory care and protection system while that transformation is achieved. These include that Oranga Tamariki make urgent changes including explicitly capping the case load of social workers.

The report is the second in the review. Both sought to answer how pēpi Maori could stay with their whānau when there was a care and protection concern. The first, published in June, included heart-breaking experiences of whānau, supported by data and historical analysis, describing deep systemic issues facing the statutory care and protection system.

This second stage included interviews with a wider group of parents and whānau, midwives, community support people and Oranga Tamariki staff.

“This report asks if we, as a country, are prepared to make the transformation needed. Our tamariki Māori, both now and to come, demand we must be,”  Commissioner Becroft says.

The full report can be accessed here, from Monday November 23.