June 06, 2019
Time to disrupt family law with Treaty of Waitangi
Māori lawyers and legal academics say the new law covering Oranga Tamariki is a chance to disrupt a system that is putting far too many Māori children into state care.
Dr Jacinta Ruru from the University of Otago, one of the authors of a Ngā Pae o Te Māramatanga research paper, Te Arotahi on the new law, says while areas of law like environmental law have had to take the Treaty of Waitangi into account for the past 30 years, the Family Court has ignored it.
Another author, Associate Professor, Director of Māori and Pacific Advancement, Khylee Quince from AUT University, says decision makers in the family court processes must be challenged to take into account tikanga and kaupapa Māori.
She says the use of words like mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga in the legislation will be a learning moment for judges and officials.
"And while whanau Māori understand and know and appreciate what those concepts mean and how important they are to flourishing, healthy, safe whānau, Ōranga Tamariki and Family Court, they require upskilling and information about exactly what do we mean by whakapapa, how is it disrupted by removal of children from whānau, how are obligations of whanaungatanga disrupted or disconnected by taking children away from their blood whānau and kin," Associate Professor Quince says.
She says up to now the system has taken a narrow view of whānau and completely excluded hapū and iwi from the discussion.
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