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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