Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft supports separate childcare system for Māori

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft isn't ruling out a separate childcare system for Māori outside of Oranga Tamariki. 

Speaking to Newshub Nation on Saturday, Becroft said in the wake of months of outrage over the uplift of Māori children, it's time for change. 

"There's a common cry for ownership by Māori and delivery of services by Māori for Māori. I think the time has come, as a nation, for us to seriously consider that."

When pressed on what that system would look like, Becroft said he could picture working alongside a Māori  Children's Commissioner. 

"Oh, on that point, it may well be that there is a Commissioner for New Zealand Children, Commissioner for Māori Children; maybe the same for children in care.

"I think there are a variety of ways of doing it structurally to make sure that Māori interests are actually focused on and prioritised as never before."

Becroft says a two-track system could not just be better for Māori but actually required by New Zealand's international obligations. 

"I think it's likely to deliver better results, but that's not actually the reason. The reason is it's a fundamental obligation utterly consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child."

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a binding international treaty signed by 196 countries, including New Zealand.

Article 20 of the convention specifically requires cultural consideration for any child in state care: "When considering solutions, due regard shall be paid to the desirability of continuity in a child's upbringing and to the child's ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic backgrounds."

This requirement is reinforced by Article 30: "In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language."

Becroft was joined on Newshub Nation by Professor Laura Lundy, editor of the International Journal of Children's Rights. She says New Zealand is a "mixed picture" when it comes to childcare. 

"There are things that New Zealand is leading on. It was one of the first countries to ban corporal punishment of children, but then you flip that and then you realise that you've got one of the highest rates of child homicide."

The Government is expected to deliver it's child welfare strategy next Thursday, and Becroft hopes that some of New Zealand's dire childcare statistics will shift as a result. 

"Overall for New Zealand children, 70 percent do pretty well - some world-leadingly well. 20 percent are in and out of disadvantage, and it's tough for them. 10 percent, about 100,000 - about two Eden Parks' full worth of children - are doing it tough in chronic disadvantage."

Newshub Nation.