A Green MP and a Māori lawyer are speaking out about Social Development Minister Anne Tolley’s plan of scrapping a provision in the Child, Young Persons and Families Act that allows extended relatives to look after at risk tamariki.
It’s part of a radical overhaul to the government ministry which Ms Tolley claims will give further protection to a vulnerable child’s well-being.
But the Green’s spokesperson for social development Jan Logie told Te Karere the move will have devastating effects on future generations.
“Taking children from their families disrupts whakapapa and affects the entire future of those kids.”
Prominent lawyer Moana Jackson agrees.
“It's an attack on whakapapa and it's an attack on the fundamental treaty right that we have the authority to care for our own mokopuna (grandchildren),” Mr Jackson said.
Ms Logie said people were very concerned about the changes to CYFS and how it would affect Māori children during a hui that was held in Ōtaki recently.
“It was encouraging to see that there was such community concern at the hui, including from Moana Jackson and Paora Moyle, about the government's plan to scrap or dilute the provision that where ever possible the relationship between the child and their whānau, hapū or iwi should be maintained.”
Mr Jackson said it was quite worrying that the Ministry of Social Development was going down a pathway of privatisation.
“Ann Tolley is on record of having met with Serco on these issues, and just recently the United Kingdom government announced the privatisation of welfare and child protection services.”
And he said there were many Māori families across the country who can look after at risk children.
“Like Dame Tariana I simply don't accept that there aren't among the thousands of safe Māori whānau who couldn't care and love and protect our mokopuna who are in need of that care and protection,” he said.
“It should not be the state deciding all by itself what is best for Māori,” Ms Logie said.
According to Ministry of Social Development figures, 60% of children in CYF care are Māori.
Dame Tariana Turia, the former Whānau Ora Minister, recently scolded the Minister of Social Development, Anne Tolley, and called on iwi leaders to challenge the government.
Waikato-Tainui responded and spokesman Rahui Papa said his organisation was aiming to have a meeting with Ms Tolley.
In the meantime, Ms Logie said the Greens plan to work out a strategy to challenge the government on the issue.