Monday, February 03, 2020

Shut down the child stealers

Last year, Newsroom exposed Oranga Tamariki's kidnapping of Māori children, with graphic video of the organisations efforts to "uplift" a newborn baby from its mother. The public reacted with revulsion, and multiple inquiries were launched. Now one of them - by the Whānau Ora Commissioning agency - has recommended that the agency be completely overhauled:

A report on Oranga Tamariki has revealed harrowing stories of the removal of Māori babies and is calling for a complete overhaul of the ministry.


Dame Naida Glavish, who chaired the governance group overseeing the review, said the report confirmed systemic failure and discrimination.

"The Crown is not honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi. There's been unprecedented breaches of human rights and the treatment of Māori women has been inhumane."

"We can clearly see from the volume of evidence and the heavy handed approach inflicted on this whānau that something is so systemically wrong. This entrenched behaviour is plain unjust," Dame Naida said.

Not to mention horribly, horribly racist, with Māori babies five times more likely than non-Māori ones to be ordered into state care. Oranga Tamariki has also used armed police to conduct these kidnappings - a militarisation of the child welfare system.

The report recommends an an end to child-stealing and a complete overhaul of Oranga Tamariki and of the law which enables it. The first is welcome. As for the rest, this organisation is deeply racist and rotten to the core. If we want to end that deeply entrenched organisational culture, the only way to do it is shut down the organisation and start again from scratch. Gambling on it being reformable is simply a recipe for further abuses.