The second national hui in the Māori-led Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki concluded ahead of schedule after a capacity audience formally ratified the terms of reference that determines the scope and purpose of the independent investigation into both historical and contemporary child uplifts by the Ministry for Children.
“This will be a groundbreaking and reflective framework, pulled together under guidance of our Patron, Sir Mason Durie. We’re going out into the regions through our partner network in the communities to listen because they live, breathe and know their whānau the best,” said Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, Chair of Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency.
“The time has come for change and a solution that is for Māori, by Māori, with Māori given the escalating disquiet in this country by our people. Oranga Tamariki received another $1.2 billion this year, up $238 million from last year – despite failing 14 reviews. The State is signaling through that choice that it can do better and values its own answers over ours – well that is not the truth. It cannot and should not manage Māori, we manage ourselves and determine our own solutions.”
To appropriately evidence the scale of collective impact, a new nationwide initiative, Ngā Pou Whakaaro or Whānau Ora Listening Posts was announced. Hosted by the Whānau Ora partner network, they’ve been designed to provide a safe and private mechanism for whānau to share their stories related to the Inquiry.
The key questions being asked include: What’s working for our tamariki and whānau? What’s not working for our tamariki and whānau? What can we do differently to support our tamariki and whānau?
The Hamilton hui was at the express invitation of the Kīngitanga. It was further bolstered by Māori King Tuheitia’s message announcing his “full and unwaivering support for the Inquiry” that was delivered through a spokesperson.
Children’s Commissioner, Andrew Becroft attended as an observer with three members of his team.
“I come today upon invitation with humility using two ears and one mouth. At the heart of the issue is a profound misunderstanding of the place of the child in Māori society and their hapū and iwi,” he says.
He attributed this to systemic unconscious bias and calls for a “devolution to revolution” solution. Dame Tariana Turia, Patron of Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency agreed.
“Today is the time for a revolution. Sometimes we have to take the biggest stand we have ever made and I challenge that the time for that is now,” she said.
Chief Executive, John Tamihere vehemently challenged the actual resourcing regime for Whānau Ora post-Wellbeing Budget after anticipating $80 million when in reality there was five percent allocated.
“Whānau Ora has been in existence for five years. It’s audited regularly by KPMG on the financials, PWC on the quality of the programs and the Auditor General bought out a report this year saying the Commissioning Agency had met all our KPI’s. The independent Whānau Ora Review attracted glowing feedback, even the productivity commissioner endorses the programme, yet our Minister of Whānau Ora is silent; it’s destruction of Whānau Ora by stealth,” he said.
On the stage for the duration sat the Governing Group, Chaired by Dame Naida Glavish who concluded, “Despite it all, the candle of hope is glowing stronger and stronger. If it’s good for Māori, it’s good for us all.”
The terms of reference were presented at the Koroneihana at Tūrangawaewae Marae today.
To view the full terms of reference and identify the location of a Whānau Ora Listening Post go to: www.whanauora.nz.