Children's Minister Kelvin Davis demands 'please explain' from Oranga Tamariki over another Māori uplift

Minister for Children Kelvin Davis
Minister for Children Kelvin Davis. Credit: Newshub

Newshub understands Children's Minister Kelvin Davis is furious with Oranga Tamariki after it failed to inform him of another damaging story about uplifting Māori children. 

MPs are lining up to call for the resignation of Oranga Tamariki boss Grainne Moss, and it has created the first division in Labour this term with Davis publicly rebuking one of his colleagues.

A Newsroom investigation followed four children as they were shifted to live with wider whānau, taken from the Pākehā family Oranga Tamariki had originally placed them with - a reverse uplift. 

"I don't want to go," a child can be heard saying in the video. 

"I thought it was heart-wrenching," Davis said on Thursday. "I asked Oranga Tamariki to come into my office for a 'please explain'. I do still have more questions so I've asked for a full written briefing."

The agency has been under intense scrutiny. It's been labelled "racist" and former Ngai Tahu chair Sir Mark Solomon took it further. 

"They act in a harmful, abusive manner," he said in the Newsroom video. 

Journalist Melanie Reid says to him: "That's a big statement."

Soloman replies: "Well I'm making the statement." 

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer is also concerned.  

"I think Oranga Tamariki practices as we see today are absolutely harmful," she said. 

Oranga Tamariki chief executive Grainne Moss is facing intense pressure to resign.

Green MP Elizabeth Kerekere says it is "quite common in our Government that when a leader recognises that they have failed to meet the needs of their job and the people that they're meant to be working, to resign". 

Ngarewa-Packer says resigning would be the "honourable" thing for Moss to do. 

"There's been failings, reviews have found her wanting, but actually she's admitted to systemic failings as well, so it is the honourable thing to do."

Moss wouldn't be interviewed on Thursday after refused to stand down from her position the day before. 

"I can confirm I am staying in my role."

She was forced to clarify after Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare told Maori TV she was "allegedly" going to resign on Tuesday night. 

It was quite a shock to his colleague, the Children's Minister, who told Henare publicly to pull his head in. 

"It would be inappropriate for me to comment on Whanau Ora just like it would be inappropriate for other ministers to speak about Oranga Tamariki," Davis said. "He's a Cabinet minister but I think everyone knows that a minister speaks about their own portfolios."

Henare said: "It certainly wasn't my intention to overstep. We're both passionate about our tamariki and we want the best for them."

Labour's Māori caucus also has a position on the CEO but Davis has made it crystal clear not to express it. 

"I'm the one that will be talking about it not the Māori caucus."