25 Jul 2012

Many Maori children denied basic rights - commission

7:15 pm on 25 July 2012

The Human Rights Commission has told a Government inquiry into the status and well-being of Maori children that many are being denied their basic human rights because of poverty and inadequate public services.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says there are more than 250,000 Maori tamariki in Aotearoa - or 25% of all children - and a third of them live in poverty and hardship.

Mr de Bres has advised the Maori Affairs Select Committee to recommend to the Government that it develops a Children's Act.

The act would include a Children's Action Plan, that would require the heads of Government agencies to report annually on their progress toward meeting targets to eliminate poverty among tamariki.

Mr de Bres also recommends welfare reforms be independently evaluated to ensure they don't negatively affect the well-being of Maori children and their whanau.

And he says the shortage of teachers fluent in te reo Maori needs to be addressed, along with the lack of trilingual interpreters, of te reo Maori, English and sign language.

Mr de Bres pointed out several international organisations, including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, have already called on the Government to take urgent action to improve the situation of Maori children.

The inquiry's examining six areas, including the public money spent on tamariki, health, education, social services and justice.