Protests over Oranga Tamariki to be 'almost daily' in Christchurch

5:13 pm on 21 June 2019

Protesters are taking to the streets over Oranga Tamariki's practices - and are planning to do so almost daily.

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Protestors against Oranga Tamariki's turned out today in Christchurch. Photo: Stanley McFerrier

People from the groups Unite As a Nation and Save our Babies took their message to the Ministry for Children's offices in New Plymouth, Hamilton and Christchurch today.

The scene on Christchurch's Pages Rd included loudhailers, sirens and about 20 protesters, including placards reading 'Hands Off Our Whakapapa' and 'Save Our Babies'.

The event was organised by Piwi Beard, who grew up in state care and said it was high time Oranga Tamariki acted a little less tough.

She said she understood the important role the ministry played, but its approach needed fixing.

"Ideal outcome is for Oranga Tamariki to sit down with whānau and find a solution before an uplift, before a childcare protection issue is put in place - and to listen. To sit side by side," she said.

Ms Beard said the Treaty of Waitangi gave Māori the right to govern their own, and the ministry needed to believe whānau had the solution.

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Protestors in Christchurch say Oranga Tamariki's approach needs to change. Photo: Stanley McFerrier

Another protester Mervyn Beard said there were too many horror stories about Oranga Tamariki.

He was moved to join the protest after seeing recent video footage of a baby being taken from its family.

"It was such a sad thing to see. As an older man it practically brought me to tears just to see what's happening to our kids," he said.

Also among the protesters was Tina French, who has been lobbying for change within Oranga Tamariki for months.

She is doubtful that new legislation, to be introduced in two weeks, would ease the outcry over the removal of at-risk Māori babies into state care.

"One of the most hardest, heartbreaking parts of dealing with Oranga Tamariki is no one listens, no one listens," she said.

"We're telling our story - we're telling our lawyers, we're approaching our local MPs, we're approaching media and unless we've got concrete evidence, no one will listen and that's really, really hard as a parent to know that your kids are in a bad situation and you can't do anything about it," she said.

Ms Beard said protest action would continue almost daily in Christchurch and events were planned in 13 other centres around New Zealand.

Nation-wide hikoi are planned for 30 July, including from the Bridge of Remembrance through the centre of Christchurch.

A protest is planned for Wellington on 30 June.

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