Oranga Tamariki: 'Listening posts' for families to detail their social work experiences launched as part of inquiry

Māori leaders conducting their own inquiry into the actions of Oranga Tamariki say they're heading to the regions to hear the stories of whānau.

They've established self-proclaimed "listening posts" to enable families to detail their experiences at the hands of social workers. 

Karisma Emery wants to tell her story of growing up in state care. 

"I've got post-traumatic stress disorder from being in care," she told Newshub.

She says she has no relationship with her mother and barely sees her siblings.

"Since I came into care as a five-year-old, I have had over 30 placements," she revealed.

Karisma's now 17 and wants the system to change.

"[It's] very important, I want to let everyone know what happens to kids in the system," she says.

The inquiry has been building, with a room overflowing with angry Māori leaders.

"There's real disquiet out in the country, we're hearing some shocking stories," says Meripeka Ruakawa-Tait, the chair of Whānau Ora's commissioning agency, Te Pou Matakana.

It's one of four inquiries established in the wake of an attempt to take a child from her mother in Hawke's Bay. 

Monday's meeting was located in the heart of Tainui country, and has the support of the Kīngitanga movement.

Everywhere, Māori will be able to contribute openly and safely, with each session described as "a listening post".

"It'll be safe, there'll be only the people there that the families want. So they can talk knowing they'll be respected and listened to," Ruakawa-Tait told Newshub.

There is a lot of distrust. No one was representing the Government, and few attending expected the Government's own inquiry to achieve anything.

Oranga Tamariki welcomes the hui, saying everyone wants New Zealand to be the best place for children to grow up - and the most effective way to do that is to work together. 

Stage two of the inquiry finishes tomorrow, then whānau, iwi and hapū will get their say before a report is due in February.


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