Māori King tells people to stop blaming Government over child uplifts

The Māori King has told his people to stop blaming the Government over child uplifts.

The topic of uplifts has been in the spotlight since Newsroom released a video investigation in June showing officials from Oranga Tamariki attempting to take a young Māori baby away from her family out of concern for the child's safety.

The group Hands Off Our Tamariki led a march on Parliament last month, saying a halt to uplifts was necessary as tamariki in care have poor outcomes and should instead be kept within whanau or iwi. A system led by Māori philosophies has also been mooted.

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

But speaking at the annual Kiingitanga Koroneihana celebrations on Wednesday, King Tūheitia said it's sometimes necessary for children to be taken for their own protection.

"I have a fundamental belief in the vital place of the whānau in raising and nurturing their tamariki," he told the crowd.

"I also believe in the absolute right of the child to be protected and where necessary, taken out of harm's way.

"My challenge is to the whānau, hapū, iwi to take care of our tamariki and where the need arises to place them in a safe home.

"We must avoid blaming the Government. Instead, we need to work on a solution. We have a chance to design the solution on our own."

One of those protesting, Rihi Te Nana, told The AM Show in July that she accepted children from abusive homes should be removed, but only as a last resort if the whanau has been worked with. 

"What is front of mind is that the Government actually accepts that Māori can look after their tamariki and children, and the problem that we have at the moment is that the state has done, for 156 years, a very poor job of looking after our tamariki," she said.

"Māori have very good networks, we are able to find safe whanau that tamariki who are in crisis can go and stay with and we can also support the whanau in crisis, to think about the issues that they have and how within our context we can walk alongside them to support them to move forward."

She said some children get abused in state care, so it can't be presumed tamariki automatically become safer when uplifted.