21 May 2015

Dismay at lack of Maori on CYF review panel

8:21 am on 21 May 2015

The Government is excluding Māori from an expert panel set up to review Child, Youth and Family, the Whānau Ora iwi leaders group chair says.

There are six iwi representatives in the group as well as ministerial staff.

Anne Tolley.

Iwi have expressed dismay to Anne Tolley at their exclusion form a CYF review panel. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Chairperson Raniera (Sonny) Tau said he had written to Social Development Minister Anne Tolley to express the group's 'extreme concern' at the panel's make-up which appears to contain no Māori.

Iwi representatives in the group as well as Mr Tau are: Naida Glavish, Rahui Papa, Sir Mark Solomon, Dr Hope Tupara and Richard Steedman.

Mr Tau said he was appalled by the lack of Māori representation.

" I think it's quite disgusting, it's quite abhorrent really and we're not going to stand for this sort of thing where iwi have had a lot of input through the Iwi Chairs Forum, a lot of input into government policy and yet this one, one of the main ones, they've again neglected to recognise that there needs to be Māori expertise on that review panel."

Mr Tau said while there appeared to be no tāngata whenua on the minister's expert panel, there were a disproportionately high number of Māori children who had been referred to youth justice facilities or to the care of Child, Youth and Family.

"I think that when you're going to review a situation like CYF, where Māori in the past have had no input into the infrastructure of the CYF regime, then I think that it's a bit rich for the Government to review it in view of the number of Māori children in CYF's care and that there's no Māori expertise that was appointed to the panel.

"It appears that we've [been excluded] and [yet] we've had significant input at a very senior level with minister Tolley in terms of Whānau Ora and bringing these issues forward. CYF is a central position for Whānau Ora and yet they have again not recognised the need for expertise in this review group."

Mr Tau said it was somewhat confusing that a government which has been bold enough to invest in Whānau Ora, is unprepared to show that same test of faith in the care of Māori children.

He said given the enthusiasm and commitment of Māori to be involved in reforming the child welfare system, the iwi chairs are extremely concerned at the actions of Mrs Tolley when they have so much expertise to offer.