The Maori Women's Welfare League has filed a claim in the Waitangi Tribunal challenging the policy changes proposed for the care and protection of children and young persons.
Those groups and individuals present at the Hui Whakatipu called by the National President, Prue Kapua, last Monday unanimously agreed to lodge the claim.
"Essentially the claim is brought on the basis that the policy changes to a safe, stable, loving home without the existing priority of placement within whanau, hapu and iwi is a breach of the rangatiratanga and partnership guarantees under the Treaty of Waitangi," Ms Kapua says.
Last week the President wrote to the Minister of Social Development and the Minister for Maori Development asking that any proposed legislation reflecting the policy is deferred until Maori have had a chance to consider and discuss the changes. The President has also asked the Iwi Leaders for their support in the call to delay the introduction of any new law.
"The policy outlines significant changes that will impact on our tamariki and rangatahi who make up the majority of children in state care. The existing provisions arose out of a report that identified institutional racism within the Department of Social Welfare and the urgent need to involve whanau, hapu and iwi in the decisions about proper care and protection. That the Department has fallen short of those requirements does not justify abandoning them," Ms Kapua stated. "We know how important it is for our tamariki and rangatahi to know who they are and where they come from and to ensure that their whanau, hapu and iwi connection is made and maintained."
The League is keen to work with all organisations and bodies and with Government to find solutions that will keep tamariki and rangatahi safe within the context of their whanau, hapu and iwi.