Children's Commisioner to review Oranga Tamariki over child removal

The Children's Commissioner has announced his office will be reviewing Oranga Tamariki following numerous reports about children being removed from their families by the state child protection agency.

Earlier this week, Newsroom released a video investigation showing officials from Oranga Tamariki - the Ministry for Children - at a maternity ward attempting to take a young baby away from her family out of concern for the child's safety.

The process used by the officials has been criticised, with the young Māori mother being isolated from her midwife and whanāu late at night so Oranga Tamariki could pressure her to give up her newborn.

Now Judge Andrew Becroft says he will be looking at Oranga Tamariki's policies and how the mother-child relationship has been "denied to too many Māori children".

"My Office has been concerned about this issue for some considerable time and discussions with several parties involved have heightened the need for a review of Oranga Tamariki's practice when they are notified of serious care and protection concerns for young babies," he says.

"We believe it is time to examine closely the policies standing behind present practice, and the processes used to implement them, with a view to identifying any necessary change to policy, processes and practice."

On average, three Māori children are taken into care every week, Newsroom reports, and that number is rising - while the rate of uplift for non-Māori is staying static.

More than half of kids in state care are Māori, which has led to accusations the organisation's policies are racist from former Whanau Ora Minister Dame Tariana Turia.

"Taking children, ripping children away from the essence of who they are is not the answer. And I don't care what Oranga Tamariki or whatever they want to call themselves say. The fact is it is not good practice to remove children from their whakapapa," she told Magic Talk's Ryan Bridge on Thursday.

Grainne Moss, head of the child welfare agency, was reluctant to discuss the details of the case during an appearance on The AM Show on Thursday, citing privacy. However she defended the decision to try to take the newborn into state care.

"We bring [children] into care with the approval of the courts after we've provided evidence that actually, this may be the only way to keep that child safe."