The Press

Child wel­fare boss ad­mits racism harm

- Joel Maxwell

‘‘The struc­tural racism that ex­ists in the care and pro­tec­tion sys­tem ... has also meant more ta­mariki Ma¯ori be­ing re­ported to it.’’

Grainne Moss

Oranga Ta­mariki chief ex­ec­u­tive

Oranga Ta­mariki chief ex­ec­u­tive Grainne Moss has told the Wai­tangi Tri­bunal that struc­tural racism ‘‘at all lev­els’’ in the child wel­fare agency has made life worse for Ma¯ori chil­dren.

Moss spoke on be­half of the Crown at the tri­bunal’s ur­gent in­quiry into Oranga Ta­mariki’s re­moval of Ma¯ori ba­bies, sparked by the at­tempted up­lift of a baby from its mother at the Hast­ings hos­pi­tal in 2019.

In Welling­ton, Moss said she be­lieved the Crown needed to make cer­tain con­ces­sions to al­low iwi, Ma¯ori and the pub­lic to ‘‘move for­ward to­gether’’.

She said racism was a fea­ture of the care and pro­tec­tion sys­tem, with ad­verse ef­fects for ta­mariki Ma¯ori, wha¯nau, hapu¯ and iwi.

‘‘The struc­tural racism that ex­ists in the care and pro­tec­tion sys­tem re­flects broader so­ci­ety, and has also meant more ta­mariki Ma¯ori be­ing re­ported to it.’’

She said the Crown should have iden­ti­fied the need to tackle struc­tural racism ‘‘head on’’ when Oranga Ta­mariki was es­tab­lished.

‘‘In ad­di­tion to mak­ing this ac­knowl­edg­ment, I wish to stress my and my or­gan­i­sa­tion’s ab­so­lute com­mit­ment to ad­dress­ing racism in the care and pro­tec­tion sys­tem at all lev­els.’’

Moss said the Crown ac­knowl­edged its fail­ure to fully im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of the more than 30-year-old re­port Pu¯ao te Ata Tu¯ on racism in New Zealand and its wel­fare ser­vices.

‘‘It has un­der­mined Ma¯ori trust and con­fi­dence in the Crown, and it has un­der­mined con­fi­dence in its will­ing­ness and abil­ity to ad­dress dis­par­i­ties.’’

She ac­knowl­edged that, his­tor­i­cally, Ma¯ori per­spec­tives and so­lu­tions had been ig­nored across the sys­tem.

The tri­bunal would hear over the coming days the changes that Oranga Ta­mariki was mak­ing and the re­sults these changes were cre­at­ing, she said.

Moss her­self has come un­der pres­sure af­ter Min­is­ter for Chil­dren Kelvin Davis re­fused to say he had con­fi­dence in her.

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