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New Zealand Māori Council and Oranga Tamariki sign agreement on Children in State Care

New Zealand Māori Council and Oranga Tamariki sign agreement on Children in State Care

The New Zealand Māori Council and Oranga Tamariki have agreed to explore how they can work together to improve the outcomes for Māori children in state care and their whānau.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), to be officially signed in Rotorua this weekend, will see both the organisations take the first step in what they hope will be a long-lasting and productive relationship.

Under the agreement, areas of mutual interest including national policy topics and the development of a joint work plan will be considered while opportunities for the utilization of the Māori warden workforce and advocacy of whānau wellbeing and responsibility will also be looked at.

The New Zealand Māori Council is the only Māori organization with its own Act of Parliament that contains significant powers of intervention when it comes to Māori and Māori communities.

The Council’s Executive Director Matthew Tukaki said it was time to move forward and focus attention on preventing tamariki from coming into the care of the State, supporting whānau and tamariki while they were in the system and when they had left.

“We have all read the countless reports and recommendations so what is needed now is a coming together to look at viable and long-term solutions to solving the problem.

“Our goal should be a world without the need of intervention by the State – to get to that end game we need to prevent the reasons for our kids entering the system by focusing on the root-causes such as poverty, housing, employment, addictions and more. The reality is that most of our children live in healthy and loving homes – our goal should be to make that all children.”

Henare Mason, incoming Chair of the Council, said partnership arrangements were essential to respond to the demand and in the design of kaupapa delivery models. Each rohe, district, iwi and tribe had different needs but if the foundations were right and people were empowered to take the next step then progress could be made.

“We have the chance to look for circuit breakers and we have a chance to stir real action on the ground and at the national level,” Mason said.

“Our motivation for embarking on a partnership with the Crown is to further the interests of our people when it comes to tamariki and rangatahi and this first step will help us all point the waka in the right direction.”

Oranga Tamariki Chief Executive Grainne Moss said working closely with community and Māori organisations was crucial to transforming New Zealand’s care system.

“No single agency or organisation can meet the challenge of keeping tamariki free from abuse or neglect alone – it’s a huge challenge that will take us working in partnership to address.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Māori Council to explore how we can work together. With the Council’s position as a national organisation, people on the ground and strong networks in their communities they’re well-placed to help us in our mission of keeping young people safe and with their whānau.”

Oranga Tamariki was created in 2017 as part of a bold overhaul of the existing care and protection, and youth justice systems.

It’s policies were revised in line with new legislation on July 1 this year which require closer working with whānau, hapū and iwi.

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