Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft slams 'disturbing' number of Māori babies in state care

The Children's Commissioner has called the number of Māori babies in state care  "deeply disturbing". 

Although only 25 percent of all children in New Zealand are identified as Māori, as of June 2019, a staggering 4420 of the 6429 children in state care were Māori. That's 69 percent.

Judge Andrew Becroft said the confronting video of Oranga Tamariki baby uplifts is what motivated him to look closer into the numbers of Māori children in state care.

"It's simply a festering shame and sore in New Zealand to have the level of inequity so profound."

It was found that Māori under three months are five times as likely to be taken into state care than non-Māori.

Becroft said a key question for him is whether the children are being unfairly taken into state care.

"I'm not happy. As long as I have life and breath as a Commissioner, I'll be advocating for all I'm worth to ensure these stats come down. Because otherwise, they're going to flow through and affect children for life."

Becroft added that Māori babies going into state care is a vicious cycle he's determined to break.

The midwife of a young woman whose baby was almost uplifted by Oranga Tamariki has also responded, and said the current state care system isn't working.

"I believe it's racist.

"It's an ambulance at the bottom of the hill. I think we need to rethink what we are doing. There are issues about education, lack of housing, social poverty."

Oranga Tamariki admits Māori babies, children and young people are overrepresented in state care, and said reducing this is a key focus of its work.