So the Waitangi Tribunal called on the Government to step back from intruding into Māori communities. The say the uplift and care of Māori children by Oranga Tamariki has breached the Treaty of Waitangi.
The Tribunal recommends that an independent Māori Transition Authority should be created to reform the agency’s care and protection system for tamariki Māori. Which is Maori children for those people who refuse to recognise Maori language.
But the Tribunal stopped short of recommending full devolution. That is a Maori Authority that deals with all Maori cases of child welfare run by Maori.
But that hasn't stopped many Maori groups raising a clamour demanding a full devolution and an army of opponents chanting the word “seperatism”
So here's where I wade in; and invariably I'll be told I know nothing as I'm a middle aged, middle class white male. And other people will casually throw around the word racist, but I don't care. This is free speech.
There is no way that the state can be divorced from the care of at risk Maori kids.
If the state pays for it, they get a say. The state is you and me through our taxes. The state is responsible for all New Zealanders, no matter their ethnic background.
Maori are not responsible for just Maori but all New Zealanders. If they take the state's money they take the state's oversight. That’s part of the partnership the Treaty tries to create.
When dealing with vulnerable children, the state provides an objective oversight of difficult situations. Oranga Tamariki should never be accused of offering fear of favour based on cultural ethnicity.
I don’t disagree with a Maori Transition Authority to create better environment for Maori within Oranga Tamariki but I don’t see the value of creating a separate entity. I’m surprised that Maori do. That entity would be under the most intense scrutiny and there is no guarantee that it would be any better than our current set up.
It’s not as though there isn’t significant Maori input already and there are a significant number of Maori uplifts by Maori social workers already. Maori want whanau based care of their endangered children. They don’t seem to see how other ethnicities find that ironic since it is whanau that is endangering the children in the first place
The Tribunal says Oranga Tamariki’s uplift of Maori children breaks the Treaty. You could also argue the Treaty obligations were broken by Maori before Oranga Tamariki was involved.
Maori believe the Treaty gives them Tino Rangatiratanga or authority over their taonga. That’s their treasured possessions, like their children.
When their taonga, their tamaraki, are no longer treasured by their whanau which means they need to uplifted, they have failed to exercise their authority, their Tino Rangatiratanga. In essence the abuse of Maori children by their parents breaks the Treaty in my book.
Andrew Dickens is a broadcaster with Newstalk ZB.