22 Oct 2020

Calls for Oranga Tamariki resources to be diverted to Māori authority

10:12 am on 22 October 2020

The National Urban Māori Authority is calling for Oranga Tamariki to make way for a 'Mokopuna Authority'.

Lady Tueriti Moxon in RNZ Checkpoint studio with Lisa Owen.

National Urban Māori Authority chair Lady Tureiti Moxon. Photo: Supplied / Te Kōhao Health

They say the government needs to relinquish power and allow Māori to do what it knows works for its own.

National Urban Māori Authority chair Lady Tureiti Moxon will be giving evidence today at a Waitangi Tribunal hearing, underway in Auckland, into the practices of Oranga Tamariki and why there is a disproportionate number of Māori children in state care.

She told Morning Report there were the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency, organisations like Wānanga, Kōhanga Reo that already existed.

Moxon was hoping funding would go into the Mokopuna Authority and then out into the regions.

"So the regions will be looking after their own communities. That's the key - that we've got people who are looking after themselves instead of some centralised group looking after everybody."

At this stage, they were looking at people who could culturally connect with tamariki Māori. But that need could change in the future, she said.

"What we're looking at is looking after our own children."

She said the idea was not to break up Oranga Tamariki, but that they would have a different role than the proposed authority.

Māori in Oranga Tamariki care made up between 50-70 percent, she said, "so we're looking at that kind of funding coming across into this Māori Mokopuna Authority".

"I think there is some political will but we haven't gone far enough ... we are still in a subservient relationship. It isn't what it should be under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which is a partnership - a partnership of equality, equity."

That is what she would be presenting before the Waitangi Tribunal today.

Moxon said there were many Māori MPs in Parliament but "in the last three years we didn't see a lot of change".

"At the moment we haven't seen a lot of those Māori MPs, or even any MP really flexing their political muscle to make systemic change that's actually going to involve Māori fully in the upbringing of our children."

Moxon said there was enough Māori expertise to get the authority started.

"The issue is whether or not the Crown is going to be willing to relinquish power and resources so that we can get it going full boil."

She gave the example of how Whānau Ora had gotten bigger over time with funding from Oranga Tamariki, ACC and Te Puni Kōkiri.

"We've got plenty of examples where this is happening. We've got to have the will to let that power go and give the resources over so we can just get on and do the job."

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