NZ Election 2020: Māori Party proposes new independent child agency, says Oranga Tamariki staff 'do not care' about Māori babies

The Māori Party wants to take Māori children out of Oranga Tamariki's care, saying staff "either do not understand or do not care" about Māori.

Instead it's proposing a Mokopuna Māori Entity, "which will be responsible for the care of all mokopuna Māori in Aotearoa".

Oranga Tamariki would be left only looking after non-Māori children - which make up only about a third of its total caseload.

"We are at a tipping point and the time has come for us [to] take back our rights as tangata whenua," said Mariameno Kapa-Kingi, candidate for Te Tai Tokerau.

"Our babies make up 70 percent of children in state care and are effectively funded to stay with people to whom they have no whakapapa connection - mokopuna Māori do not belong in generic state care, they belong within whānau, hapū and iwi.

"The latest global pandemic has created an opportunity for us to reset our compass for 'true north' and build our own kaupapa Māori system for Māori, by Māori, as Māori."

The party wants to spend $600 million on the new entity, taken out of Oranga Tamariki's budget, which Kapa-Kingi says will be " for Māori, by Māori, as Māori". She's confident it can be set up quickly enough that "not one more mokopuna" will end up in Oranga Tamariki's care.

"Not Pākehā people using Pākehā models and telling Māori they know what's best for them, which is what has been happening for decades and we have suffered because of it," according to a statement from the party.

Oranga Tamariki boasts on its site that more than a quarter of its frontline social workers are Māori. The Māori Party says it's been told to "brown up" its team.

"This is only surface-level, and does not change the culture which harms our tamariki and mokopuna."

The new entity would not operate under Oranga Tamariki, which the party says " has harmed us for generations".

"A contracted commissioning model such as Whānau Ora will be adopted. Whānau Ora already exists and the intention is to build a partnership network across existing and prospective Māori organisations which operate independently of Government."

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