Mother's Day hui to discuss Oranga Tamariki's removal of newborn babies

9:47 am on 12 May 2019

Up to 100 women who have had children taken by Oranga Tamariki are expected at a hui in Raglan today.

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Photo: 123RF

The hui follows the attempted removal of a newborn baby from its 19-year-old mother at Hawke's Bay Hospital on Tuesday.

Raglan woman Lou Hutchinson has organised the hui for women who feel they are being unjustly treated by Oranga Tamariki.

She said parents and whanau of such "uplifted" children are not given a chance to defend allegations made against them.

"... The notification process and that it's not investigated thoroughly. If you try and take that any further, if you try and use the complaints process you're continually shut out or shut down," Ms Hutchinson said.

Ministry figures showed the number of Māori newborns taken into state care rose from 110 in 2015 to 172 last year.

Earlier this week Oranga Tamariki was accused of bullying and racism by a Māori midwife who fought to prevent a young mother from having her baby taken away.

The mother was ordered by the Family Court to sign over custody of her newborn baby to the ministry because of a history of family violence.

This led to a standoff at Hawke's Bay Hospital on Tuesday, where the building was put into lockdown while social workers and police tried to take the newborn.

Midwife Jean Te Huia from Māori Midwives Aotearoa said she and another midwife had met with Oranga Tamariki and previously agreed on a plan to support the young woman so she could keep her baby but Oranga Tamariki reneged on the deal. It was eventually agreed the young woman's whanau would keep the baby.

Ministry head Gráinne Moss defended how her staff handled the case, and said it was too early to tell if it could have been handled differently.

However, Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft said Oranga Tamariki has no choice but to change its approach. He said too many children, especially Māori, were being denied the right to develop a strong bond with their mother in their first few months of life.

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