Iwi chairs voted unanimously to support all 'action point' recommendations of the Whānau Ora commissioned Māori-led Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki.
At the Iwi Chairs Forum at Waitangi on 4th February, around 250 attendees representing Iwi and hapū from across Aotearoa voted in favour of the recommendations.
They were to overhaul the system, strengthen whānau capability and capacity, undertake a structural analysis and review of Oranga Tamariki systems, policies, processes and practices, and build solutions by Māori, for Māori, with Māori for long-term sustainability.
Dame Naida Glavich, Chair of the Governance Group that initiated the Māori-led Oranga Tamariki review, said the days of state agency collusion and discrimination against Māori mums and babies were over. It was time that Māori were asked for solutions and not always viewed as the problem.
“Not one more mokopuna is to be taken. Remove ‘oranga’ out of OT and bring our tamariki back to us,” Dame Naida told the cheering audience.
She said Oranga Tamariki and the Family Court system were abusing their statutory authotities.
The Māori Inquiry Governance Group is also calling for Grainne Moss, Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki, to step down and for the disbanding of the State agency who have failed at least 14 reviews over the years.
The 200 page report released on Monday reveals case study snapshots recounting harrowing and inhumane treatment of whānau by the government agency.
Since the release, even more whānau have approached the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency to tell their own shocking stories of state-wide abuse.
The Iwi Chairs Forum met with Prime Minister Jacinda Adern today to discuss the report’s recommendations.
The Minister of Oranga Tamariki announced at the hui this afternoon her commitment to work with the Whānau Ora Commissiong Agency to find better solutions for vulnerable families.
Fourteen armed police were used by Oranga Tamariki to uplift a five-month-old Māori baby from a mum, a new report has revealed.
Police and Oranga Tamariki staff converged on the home of a solo mum to execute an uplift order that had been green lighted by the Family Court without the whānau receiving any prior notification.
That is just one of the harrowing and disturbing cases uncovered by a comprehensive six month Māori-led nationwide review of Oranga Tamariki.
The mum thought she was heading to a Family Group Conference (FCG) at Oranga Tamariki. But instead she was met at her door by heavily armed cops and police dogs.
The mum continues to be supported by her whānau and remains traumatised today by the uplift ambush.
Her story is among the hundreds contained in the just released 200 page report that emerged from engaging with 1000 whānau - Māori and non-Māori - who shared their harrowing and inhumane dealings with the government agency.
The Inquiry has shone light on state agency collusion, abuse of power and racial profiling.
Dame Naida Glavish, who chaired the governance group overseeing the Māori review said this report confirms systemic failure, discrimination and inexplicable breaches of human rights towards Māori.
“We can clearly see from the volume of evidence - and the heavy handed approach to this whānau - that something is so systemically wrong. This entrenched behaviour is plain unjust,” Dame Naida said.
Dame Naida also paid tribute to the courageous whānau who fronted up to tell their stories and why it was important for Māori to lead its own review of Oranga Tamariki.
“We are deeply grateful to whānau who had the courage to stand up and speak their truth,” she said. “It was also important that Māori led the review and we as Māori look to our whānau for solutions.”
“This will not be a report that goes on the shelves with the hundreds of others. The findings back our call for a complete overhaul of Oranga Tamariki, the Family Court ex-parte order process and the law that facilitates uplifts.”
Last month the Children’s Commissioner review of Oranga Tamariki’s care and protection practices confirmed uplifts of Māori babies into state care is happening earlier and is greater for Māori than non-Māori.
Whānau Ora Commissioning Chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait says a fish rots from the head and Oranga Tamariki leadership needs to take responsibility for its systemic failures – not throw its staff under the bus.
Raukawa-Tait was commenting following a scathing review by Oranga Tamariki that was sparked following a media exposé into the department’s child uplift procedure, featuring a newborn Māori baby.
She said the response by Children’s Minister Tracy Martin and OT CEO Grainne Moss to blame their own social workers’ frontline practices is indicative of the toxic culture that is deeply entrenched and imbued within the failing system.
“The hypocrisy is not lost on us. Here you have a state agency destructively making its own determination on what’s best for whānau riding roughshod without any consideration of the far reaching intergenerational devastating impacts,” Raukawa-Tait says.
“Yet ironically it is perpetuating a violent act which is what it seeks to protect the pēpi from.”
“This is caused by a rampant collusion between Oranga Tamariki and the Family Court. Ex-partie uplift orders are the weapon of choice - many sought on a without notice basis so whānau cannot make a principled case before Court – let alone be in a position to afford access to civil justice.”
“The effect is that Oranga Tamariki has had the unfettered power for years to snatch babies from whānau through seeking orders using a fast track digital process to uplift without a proper substantive hearing. There is no justice – there is only judgement – this is a national travesty.”
“It’s shameful and unjust.”
Professor Mark Henaghan, former Dean of the Otago University Law Faculty, now lecturing in Family Law at Auckland University agrees.
“How Oranga Tamariki hung out its social workers to dry blaming them was a national disgrace, lacking taking responsibility. All when it’s the system that is at fault,” Henaghan says.
A Māori-led Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki has engaged with over 1000 whānau – including Māori and non-Māori - and will be released in the New Year.
A second hui for the Māori Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki will take place on Monday 19th August at the Novotel Hotel, Hamilton, to confirm the draft Terms of Reference for the inquiry.
The hui will be live-streamed and accessible from this web page from 1pm-3pm.
The following day, the Kīngitanga have invited Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency and the inquiry governance group to attend Ngā Kawe Mate o te Motu at Tūrangawaewae Marae on Tuesday, 20th August, where the Terms of Reference will be presented.
If you want to provide feedback on the draft Terms of Reference, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org until Friday 16th August 2019.
What is the Māori Inquiry Hui about, and what is its purpose?
Following a call from Māori leaders, Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency set in motion an independent Māori Inquiry into the Government’s child protection agency Oranga Tamariki (OT). The Inquiry is set to focus on the way OT operates and its role in removing tamariki from whānau.
The actions of OT in perpetuating inter-generational harm of Māori whānau is in direct contravention of its stated aim of ensuring children are where they can be safe, connected and flourishing.
Many in Māoridom have been alarmed by the practices of OT, which enable the taking of babies and children from their whānau without proper regard for the consequences.
What are some key issues?
Troubling statistics for Whānau:
Oranga Tamariki budget for 2019/20 is nearly $1.2 billion. Despite the failures of this system, it is rewarded each year.
What will happen at the hui?
The hui will reconvene and feedback from each wānanaga will be given. This information will inform the terms of reference (intent, scope, and purpose of inquiry).