The committee elected to govern the affairs of Te Pihopatanga between sessions of Te Runanganui has expressed strong objections to draft legislation which they say undermines whanau and hapu in the care of at-risk Maori children.
At present, The Child, Young Persons and the Families Service (CYPFS) must, by law, look to extended whanau and hapu to place tamariki who have been uplifted from their whanau.
But the proposed Children, Young Persons and their families (Oranga Tamariki) act loosens that requirement.
CYPFS will be replaced with a new Ministry for Vulnerable Children (Oranga Tamariki) – and where CYPFS “must” place vulnerable uplifted children with their own whanau or hapu the new ministry should do so “wherever possible”.
Furthermore, the new bill says whanau, hapu, iwi and family groups should be helped to provide a good home for these children “unless it is unreasonable or impracticable in the circumstances.”
Runanga Whaiti – the committee which is elected to govern the affairs of Te Pihopatanga between sessions of te Runanganui – met in Auckland today, and has issued a statement protesting at provisions they say “will place tamariki outside of their whakapapa.”
“While we support the overall aspirations of the new Oranga Tamariki arrangements to protect children more effectively, we have grave concerns as to its implications for our tamariki Maori.
“We object strongly to the new Oranga Tamariki provisions that will place tamariki outside of their whakapapa.
“We believe that there will be serious consequences from this policy in terms of a lost generation that we will all be having to deal with for decades to come.
“We support Dame Tariana Turia in her calling this ‘institutional racism’ in that it entrenches injustice and takes us backwards as a nation and as a people.
“We commit ourselves to continuing our work in supporting whanau and their loving nurture of tamariki because we know “na te taonga pumau na Ihowa nga tamariki”. Psalm 127:3 (Children are a lasting inheritance from God.)
Dame Tariana has said the draft legislation cannot be allowed to proceed and if need be she would march.
“If we can walk for our land,” she has said, “(and) if we can walk for our foreshore, we can certainly act for our tamariki”.
The Bill has been referred to select committee and the deadline for submissions on the Bill is tomorrow.
To read the full Runanga Whaiti statement, click here.