Saturday, November 25, 2023

Lindsay Mitchell: Oranga Tamariki faces major upheaval under coalition agreement

A hugely significant gain for ACT is somewhat camouflaged by legislative jargon. Under the heading 'Oranga Tamariki' ACT's coalition agreement contains the following item:

• Remove Section 7AA from the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

According to Oranga Tamariki:

"Section 7AA is our practical commitment to the principles of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi/Treaty of Waitangi."

Make no mistake. Its removal will have major ramifications.

Section 7AA is essentially the legislation that allows Oranga Tamariki to be a 'by Maori, for Maori' organisation. (In fact, the very name Oranga Tamariki may lose prominence given the coalition arrangement between NZ First and National agrees to: Ensure all public service departments have their primary name in English, except for those specifically related to Māori. Oranga Tamariki does not relate specifically to Maori but a majority of its clients are. In 2022 68 percent of children in state care were Maori.)

Back to Section 7AA. According to Oranga Tamariki the legislation's "end goal" is to achieve the following:

"Our vision for tamariki Māori, supported by our partners, is that ‘no tamaiti Māori will need state care’. This aligns to the calls being made by iwi and Māori that tamariki Māori should remain in the care of their whānau, hapū and iwi."

In the most recent report (2022), as required under Section 7AA, then Minister for Children Kelvin Davis wrote:

"All mokopuna deserve love and security, and to have access to their culture. This is a right and not a privilege. Ideally, they would be surrounded by their immediate whānau to be provided this. When that is not possible, close or extended whānau or family is the preference. Māori are fortunate to have wider whānau, hapū and iwi networks to call on for such support."

The Chief Executive, Te Hapimana (Chappie) Te Kani, has been implementing a 'Future Direction Plan' which, "... builds a strong foundation for the future of tamariki and rangatahi being within the care of whānau, hapū and iwi."

But the new Minister for Children, ACT's Karen Chhour believes the well-being and safety of the child takes priority over cultural considerations.

Many Maori children have links to non-Maori by blood. They are children with mixed parentage. Where there are conflicts over their care - who should or shouldn't step into that role - the non-Maori side of the equation must not be ruled out. That's what Section 7AA effectively does. For that reason it must go.

It is impossible to predict how its removal will play out but such a major disagreement between the Chief Executive and the new Minister will have to be resolved. The political opposition is going to be immense. And it will be ugly. Chhour has already had to withstand being told she is "not kaupapa Maori", to stop viewing the world through a "vanilla lens" and that she should "leave her Pakeha world." All distractions from her overarching goal to put the child's interests firmly first.

For my part I wish the new Minister every ounce of strength and courage.

Lindsay Mitchell is a welfare commentator who blogs HERE. - where this article was sourced.


Anonymous said...

What does it say about Maori that they need a government department to look after their children and provide state care?

Robert Arthur said...

Maori hate children being brought up in non maori culture as the resulting statistics usually reflect poorly on maori. Often produces the likes of Ron Marks, although in modern circumsatnces the constant bribery to associate and align with maori will likley undermine the good work of non maori providers.

Anonymous said...

A name change to ENGLISH would be a good first start.

Anonymous said...

Excellent news. Now they can focus on protecting children, and not on political agendas.

gazza1 said...

Simple, for children under the age of 16yrs if they have less than 50% of Māori blood then they can be nurtured and looked after by people other than those who claim to be Māori.

It is not unique to Māori that they have a very special close physical and spiritual attraction and affection to their young. It is the same for all peoples and even some other species living upon this planet we call Earth.
They (Māori) have no unique special claim to this situation.

It has only been a relatively short time in New Zealand's history since the sickening times of the violent past and it appears that according to some Māori it is still necessary for their youth to be ready with a Waihika or a Taiaha to be at hand and to know how to us them.

Of course this is not going to setup young Māori to be able to handle the rigors of life that they undoubtably will have to face from time to time in their future.

The best way out, is to have the metal to grasp the universal education offered here in New Zealand by some of the best schools in the world and to have the courage and stamina to go as far as you can.

There are hundred of thousands of young children living in Africa the would just about do anything to just have access to the basic education that is spurned upon by too many young Kiwis. However what will be, will be.