Survey reveals fear over Oranga Tamariki keeping Māori awake at night

A survey has revealed worries about Oranga Tamariki are the number one thing keeping Māori awake at night.

Using the mā subscription list, 708 Māori were surveyed about their anxieties. 

When their responses were weighted into percentages, the top issue was Oranga Tamariki and children in state care. 

"I was aware that Oranga Tamariki would loom large because of the media coverage," said NZ Māori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki.

He compared the coverage to "the band-aid being pulled off an already festering wound".

The majority of respondents said they had a form of lived experience with the uplifting of children, either personally experiencing it or knowing someone who had.

"The single biggest consistent thing that concerns them is lack of action," Tukaki said. 

Oranga Tamariki says it is committed to improving the wellbeing of Māori children and their whānau. 

"We are working hard to keep tamariki and rangatahi connected and in stable placements with whānau," a spokesperson told Newshub. 

"For example, we have introduced kairaranga-a- whānau roles to make sure our tamariki have intensive support and links to their whakapapa," they continued.

"Nearly 80 percent of Māori children and young people placed with caregivers are being looked after by their own whānau or Māori caregivers."

It acknowledges a significant amount proportion of children in the system are Māori, and says it will continue to strengthen its partnerships with iwi to meet the needs of tamariki Māori and whanau.

Policing also made the list, with 16 percent of survey respondents saying new armed response teams made them anxious.

"It's obvious the police have a long way to go," said Tukaki.

"It's now compounded by the black SUV's that appear to be targeting mostly areas with a high Māori population," he said.

Tukaki says the survey also received comments about the police presence at Ihumātao earlier in the year.

"This is still that festering sore where the band-aid is now just hanging on in terms of police engagement with Māori communities."

A police spokesperson told Newshub the trial of armed response teams in Canterbury, Waikato and Counties Manukau are based on evidence and data.

"These three districts alone have over half of the national total of firearms seized, located and surrendered by police," they said on Monday.

Police say they are working to ensure better outcomes for Māori and have multiple Māori focused strategies.

"Te Pae Oranga is a partnership between iwi, community organisations, and the justice sector and is a Māori-led approach that provides an alternative justice outcome for people who commit low-level offences," said a police spokesperson.

Police have also re-launched Te Huringa o Te Tai which recognises the need for police to build mutual trust and confidence with iwi, and support Māori. 

Housing and housing affordability were second in the list with 23 percent of Māori saying they felt as if their heads were just above the water.

"In other words, many of our people were simply living hand to mouth," said Tukaki.

Twenty percent said suicide and mental health were issues and 14 percent said they had fears regarding the cost of living and employment.

The full list of things that keep Māori awake at night is

1.    Oranga Tamariki and our children in the care of the state - 27 percent.

2.     Housing and housing affordability - 23 percent

3.    Suicide and mental health - 20 percent

4.    Policing - 16 percent

5.    The cost of living and employment - 14 percent.