Māori inclusion in CYF reform 'essential'

7:10 pm on 28 September 2015

The Māori Women's Welfare League wants to have a seat at the table to help improve the Child Youth and Family (CYF) system for the benefit of tamariki.

Preschooler on bike.

A new expert panel report is recommending radical changes to Child Youth and Family. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

About 60 percent of children in state care are Māori, and a new expert panel report is recommending a radical change of the system.

The league's national president, Prue Kapua, said the problem had existed for 30 years and a new system should not be based on government models.

She said it was time for innovative, Māori-led solutions.

"The league is obviously well placed to do that. We have our branches right throughout the motu," she said.

"We have some of our women now who are doing this - who provide safe houses for our kids when they're taken out of their current situation. They're involved with the family group conferences, in an advocacy role for the whānau."

She said this was done as volunteer work and that would be the way forward.

Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox said children in state care needed to have their culture and identity maintained.

She said the whānau these children were being taken from needed support too.

"You can't simply take children away and rehabit them with other families and do nothing about the whānau and strengthening them to ensure that any future children, or if children are placed back with that whānau, that whatever the situation has been to cause this in the first place does not happen again."

Ms Fox and Ms Kapua both agreed that it was hugely important for Māori communities to be included in finding solutions.

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