30 Apr 2024

Waitangi Tribunal report urges government stop changes to Oranga Tamariki Act

8:17 am on 30 April 2024
Oranga Tamariki

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The Waitangi Tribunal has released an interim report into an urgent inquiry into government plans to scrap Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act.

The report urges the government to stop the repeal and allow time for a periodic review of the legislation, which legally binds Oranga Tamariki to adhere to Treaty principles and improve outcomes for tamariki Māori in its care.

It highlighted concern over the approach the government was taking and failure to pay proper regard to its Treaty obligations in the process.

It said Minister for Children Karen Chhour appeared to ignore concern raised by Te Puni Kōkiri which outlined a repeal was "highly likely to undo the significant progress that has been made to reduce the disproportionate number of tamariki and rangatahi Māori in the care of the state".

ACT party MP Karen Chhour

Minister for Children Karen Chhour. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Te Puni Kōkiri also cautioned that alterations to such a significant piece of legislation must rely on evidence and should be informed by community engagement and consultation.

The Tribunal said it had not seen any evidence that 7AA had led to unsafe practice and the statements made by the minister were anecdotal and philosophical as opposed to being based on fact.

It said careful consideration of the information it had reviewed clearly indicated there was a need to allow time for a comprehensive periodic review which could be completed by 1 July next year.

Tribunal claimants appealed a High Court decision last week which overturned a Tribunal summons to the minister.

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