July 20, 2021
Marae safe haven from baby grab
Members of a Hawke’s Bay whānau have retreated to their marae in a bid to prevent a baby from being uplifted.
Jean Te Huia from Ngā Maia Māori Midwives Aotearoa says a member of the extended whānau was granted interim custody of the nine-month boy by the Family Court under section 78 of the Oranga Tamariki Act without the mother or anyone else in the whānau knowing the hearing had been sought.
The whānau took the boy to the marae at Pakipaki after an application to overturn the order was turned down.
She says Ngāti Kahungunu chair Ngahiwi Tomoana asked the police to hold off coming on to the marae to enforce the order, and the whānau is pinning its hopes on another hearing on Thursday.
She says the incident reveals major flaws in the law.
"I've been inundated with phone calls from whānau who say their in-laws are doing this to them or their parents are doing this to them. Children have become a commodity and the commodification of our tamariki is enabling them to be put in these situations where they are not safe," Ms Te Huia says.
She says the Family Court should check every claim rather than handing over a baby to a stranger and, as in this case, telling the whānau they will have their day in court three months later.
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