13 May 2024

Te Pāti Māori slams tabling of controversial Oranga Tamariki Bill during Parliament recess

8:50 pm on 13 May 2024
Maori Party MP Mariomeno Kapa-Kingi listens to evidence in select committee.

Te Tai Tokerau MP Mariameno Kapa-Kingi. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Te Pāti Māori is "disgusted" by the tabling of the controversial Oranga Tamariki Amendment Bill while Parliament is in recess.

The bill to repeal Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 was introduced to Parliament on Monday, coinciding with a Court of Appeal judgment which found the Waitangi Tribunal was right to summons Children's Minister Karen Chhour to submit evidence as part of an urgent inquiry.

Speaking to RNZ, Te Tai Tokerau MP Mariameno Kapa-Kingi said she was not surprised but deeply disappointed at the pathway the minister had taken.

It was a "terrible and sneaky" thing to introduce while Parliament was in recess, she said.

"Why would one do that? What is the motive behind that?"

She said the motive was clear: That "despite what the Tribunal or any other court is saying", the government was going to carry out its 100-day plan.

"It's rubbish, it's disgusting and it's appalling. Again, just another disappointment Māori have to deal with."

According to the Bill's explanatory note, the intention of the Bill was to "enable Oranga Tamariki-Ministry for Children to renew its focus on the safety and wellbeing of children in care arrangements".

It said the government was concerned the introduction section of 7AA has led the Oranga Tamariki to prioritise cultural factors over the safety and stability of children in long-term care arrangements.

"Concerns have been raised that Oranga Tamariki-Ministry for Children has moved tamariki Māori from stable long-term care arrangements and placed them with whānau, hapū, and iwi groups to which they whakapapa.

"Concerned voices in this area have described these changes in placement as traumatic and argue that they should only occur in cases where there is risk to the safety of the child."

Kapa-Kingi, a former social worker, said in repealing section 7AA "They're showing their hand, they're showing their practice, they're showing that they believe they know better for mokopuna Māori.

"This is not an accident, this is a deliberate plan. They care not for us in the way we need it, so we have to."

Kapa-Kingi said real change would come from whānau outside of Parliament - not politicians.

"Sixty thousand people marched to Waitangi. They didn't march to Waitangi to say 'Oh we think you're doing a really great job'. They marched to show resistance on the paepae," she said.

RNZ has contacted Chhour for comment.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs