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Time to have a brutal conversation about Maori kids in care

The Executive Director of the New Zealand Maori Council has called on Maori families, communities and organisations to have honest and open conversations about what is happening when it comes to children in State care and the shocking rates of abuse. The call comes after new figures were released from Oranga Tamariki this week showing that Maori children, per head of population, were the highest in State care and suffered significant rates of abuse:

“We all know the figures and we all know the stories. In Porirua just the other week we saw a significant of our kids being uplifted. We have heard the stories of child death and murder. We have heard the stories of our kids being bashed, of being hit, of being abused and somewhere along the line we needed to have a an honest conversation about what is happening, why its happening and end it. The time for that honest conversation is now.” Said Tukaki

“We are dealing with increasing rates of suicide amongst young Maori, who already have the highest suicide rate per head of population around the world and we know that intergenerational violence is an issue. We know that its estimated that more than 70% of children in State care between 1950 and 1999 were Maori and it seems that figure has not been reversed. Here we are on the verge of a Royal Commission into Abuse in State Care and as a people we have not progressed on this front.” Tukaki said

“Here we have organisations putting up programs about the wellbeing of certain cohorts within the Maori demographic but are we honestly addressing the extreme levels of violence? The answer is obviously not because if we were, if we were really doing what needed to be done then we would not need a conversation. And yes there needs to be reform of the system, there needs to be greater investment, there must be a change in how State care works but we also need to be honest and say enough is enough,” Tukaki said

“In no ones universe is it acceptable to hit a kid, smack a kid, throw a kid, shake a kid, enact violence against a child and in way in hell should any child die at the hands of a family member, of a parent or for that matter any one. We need to stop hitting our kids and killing kids.” Tukaki has said

Tukaki has said that there needs to be the appointment of a Maori Children’s and Whanau Commissioner to oversee a sustained program of work and a sustained series of campaigns for Maori:

“Last week I indicated to the Minister of Whanau Ora that such a role should exist to also better co-ordinate services and programs across Government. I also think the New Zealand Maori Wardens can play a significant role and the New Zealand Maori Council will be taking this issue on next week in Wellington and we won’t be letting it go” Tukaki said

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