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‘Status quo cannot continue’ – Minister for Children responds to Waitangi Tribunal findings on Oranga Tamariki

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One of the main findings of the Waitangi Tribunal’s inquiry into Oranga Tamariki found the Crown “guilty of direct and sustained violations of Maori treaty rights.”

He condemns the nefarious state intrusion into the lives of Maori whānau and politics that has been dominated by efforts to assimilate Maori into pækehā ways while praising the resilience of individual Maori and whānau in the face of systemic racism and to deprivation.

The Waitangi Court urged the Crown to step back and allow the Maori to reclaim their space.

Its main recommendation is the creation of a Maori transitional authority, with the aim of identifying and implementing the changes necessary to eliminate state ownership of tamariki and pepi Maori. But he stopped before recommending the abolition of Oranga Tamariki.

The Waitangi Tribunal wants the Maori Transitional Authority to have the power to recommend the transfer of statutory functions.

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Minister for Children Kelvin Davis thanked those who appeared in Waitangi Tribunal and shared their experiences.

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“It would have been traumatic to describe their personal stories. I wanted to become Minister for Children so that we can change what is happening, so that there is no more prejudice or trauma.

“And we start to make the changes. Their contributions will contribute to the direction taken by Oranga Tamariki. “

Davis said he had not ruled out issuing a formal apology to those aggrieved in state care, but that it had to be done at the right time and in the right place.

“It has to be genuine and, most importantly, changes have to be made, because without real changes an apology doesn’t make sense.

“I admit that governments, for many decades, have failed to support te Tiriti o Waitangi as it should have been. That’s why I asked for this job. Because I want it to be respected, and I want to make a difference for our tamariki and I want a full partnership as the treaty promised.

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“I said from the start, when I became Minister, that Oranga Tamariki must look for ways to transfer power, decision-making and resources to the Maori.

“This matches what the Waitangi Tribunal report says,” Davis said. “This is the direction in which they are heading. We have already started to make changes. But we know there is still a long way to go. “

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However, the report says any “piecemeal reform” of Oranga Tamariki, no matter how well designed, would not work and lead to setbacks for another generation of Maori tamariki.

Davis did not say when or how the recommended Maori transitional authority would be put in place, but said he would take the time to formulate a detailed response to the report.

“How are we doing from where we are now, where Oranga Tamariki is fundamentally power for themselves, the dictators, how do we transfer decision making and resources to the Maori?” This is what is really important and it cannot be done quickly. You have to think about it very carefully… and do it in partnership with the Maori.

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“The government cannot shirk its responsibility to children and there has to be a real partnership. The government must work with the Maori. “

Davis said that while the government did not follow the report’s recommendations, it was not a continuing injustice to the Maori tamariki.

“There are going to be changes, but I need to read the report, review it and give a measured response. There are other bodies of work in progress, and they all need to be brought together.

“The branch is what the Waitangi Tribunal says, but there’s no way I’m saying we’re going to maintain the status quo. Everyone knows that the status quo cannot continue.


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