Oranga Tamariki: Māori leaders issue strong call to action over uplifts

Māori leaders have issued a call to action after a video emerged of Oranga Tamariki attempting to uplift a baby in Hawke's Bay.

A wide cross-section of Māori society supported the move at a hui on Saturday.

The process of removing Tamariki has stirred anger among Māori not seen in 15 years.

"So it's the first kotahitanga or unity meeting since foreshore and seabed," said Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency chief executive John Tamihere.

Helen Clark's Foreshore and Seabed comments triggered a political movement. Delegates say the Newsroom video of the attempted removal of a baby from its mother had a similar impact.

It was a who's who of Māoridom - from dames and knights to the heads of Māori agencies, to iwi, hapu and whanau.

"You can't solve brown man's problems with white man's tools," said Tamihere.

"It's gotta be Māori solutions for Māori problems because if you don't do that you end up building more prisons and, on the journey to that prison, we have mayhem."

Studies show more than 80 percent of Māori men aged under 20 incarcerated in New Zealand were once in the care and protection of the state.  

"We have now a Royal Commission looking into the abuse of children in state care, don't tell me state care is safe care. Absolutely not," said Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait.

The hui was going to take place at the nearby Te Whare Waatea marae, but that wasn't big enough, such as the strength of feeling, they've had to book out the holiday inn where there are 500 delegates and livestream the proceedings for everybody else who couldn't make it.

Terms of reference will go out to the wider Māori community ahead of another meeting next month but the unity on show suggests a new approach to the care of tamariki is inevitable.