December 12, 2023
All repealing s7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 will do is create another generation of stolen Māori babies
Posted On December 12, 2023
s7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 was an important evolution in New Zealand’s fraught relationship with abusing children in State care. It made clear the obligation of the State to find culturally appropriate care for Māori children after a terrible history of simply uplifting them and abusing them once in State care.
This righteous obligation became problematic when Oranga Tamariki attempted to use the power retroactively by reverse uplifting Māori children put into Pakeha Foster Care and placed in ‘forever homes’.
By attempting to retroactively invoke these obligations on children who were materially and emotionally attached to their Pakeha foster parents, Oranga Tamariki helped stain their own mana and authority and opened them to the very knee-jerk responses we are now witnessing with the removal of s7AA.
Let me be clear, the retroactive nature of putting this obligation before the actual children’s well being was a terrible blunder by Oranga Tamariki and the purpose of s7AA was never meant to be interpreted in the manner it was, however, it is an essential tool moving forwards!
One of the many complaints made about Oranga Tamariki is they never had the time or resources to invest into researching wider whanau who can look after a child rather than uplifting them.
s7AA forced Oranga Tamariki to resource that research with many Iwi organisations already working in this area quick to put up their hand and ask to work directly with OT to step in and take those kids into care within their own Māori organisations with culturally, emotionally and material well being paramount.
Surely uplifting Māori children into wider and more stable whanau groups who can nurture and heal those uplifted kids within culturally appropriate setting is a far preferable outcome than the State uplifting these kids and placing them into a never ending merry go round of foster family groups and the anxiety that generates.
The issue comes down to funding. These Māori Community Groups can’t do it for free, but they can do it cheaper than the blunt force trauma of the State’s care!
Repealing the cultural obligations of Oranga Tamariki feeds into the Social Investment model that simply wants to uplift a baby or child as soon as their algorithms warn them of a future cost.
Removing s7AA streamlines this process and promises future savings and a diminished universal service of welfare.
What should happen is s7AA stays exactly where it is, the State fully funds those Iwi Community Organisations WHILE implementing all the Welfare reforms proposed by the last Government alongside welfare debt getting wiped.
We would fund all that by taxing the rich properly.
I fear my solutions won’t see the light of day and this terrible knee-jerk action by a reactionary hard right Government wanting to bash anything that is deemed beneficial to Māori just for the sake of spite will win this awful debate.
I fear another generation of lost Māori kids chewed up and spat out by a system that sees them only as a future cost.