Oranga Tamariki defends policy after alarming newborn footage

Oranga Tamariki is defending its policy for taken children from their parents, saying they only want to keep them safe.

It follows a Newsroom story that shows alarming scenes as a newborn baby is uplifted from its mother.

The footage shows the confronting reality of a young Māori mother is pressured to hand over her child to the state.

Every week, three Māori babies are uplifted from their mothers. But Oranga Tamariki CEO Gráinne Moss is defending her Ministry.

"Bringing a child into care is a very challenging and difficult situation for everybody, for the professionals and for the family," she told Newshub.

"The important thing is to focus on the safety of the child.

"What we have is a very unique approach to every time we bring a child into care, and that's the way it should stay."

Although she couldn't comment directly on this case as it's before the courts, she says babies are our most vulnerable and their protection is what is most important.

"We need to relentlessly focus on the safety of the child."

But Māori Women's Welfare League National President Prue Kapua isn't convinced.

"We've had a very poor history in this country of uplifting Maori babies."

She wants to see real change.

"There's been nothing that said, 'this is about the whānau, this is about keeping this baby within its whānau, how can we best achieve that'."

She believes the without-notice uplifts are a relic of the CYFS era.

"'We have a court order, we will uplift your baby' is exactly the same behaviour that resulted in the situations under CYFS that were so heavily criticised."

Some 283 babies were taken into care in 2018, and more than two thirds were Māori or Pasifika.