Minister for Children Tracey Martin on Oranga Tamariki taking newborn babies from mothers

Minister for Children Tracey Martin was interviewed on Newshub Nation this morning, and was asked about the jump in the number of newborn Maori babies being taken from their parents by Oranga Tamariki in the last three years.

On Newshub Nation: Simon Shepherd interviews Minister for Children Tracey Martin

Simon Shepherd: Minister for Children Tracey Martin, Thanks for your time this morning. So, we’ve seen this jump in the number of newborn Maori babies being taken from their parents in the last three years. Is that because it’s a directive from Oranga Tamariki to get involved earlier?

Tracey Martin: First of all – two things – between 2015 and 2017, certainly, there was an increase in the uplift of babies. Between 2017 and 2018, there’s been a decrease. In the Waikato, there’s been a decrease; in the Hawke’s Bay, there’s been an increase. So none of this is just a standard ‘we’re going in and picking up babies’, which is a little bit what is being portrayed across the media at the moment.

Okay. But there has been— I mean, let’s just talk about those figures. Maori babies in the first seven days, between 2015 and 2016 – 164 in those two years. Bring it forward, 2017, 2018 – 230. And that’s in the first seven days of a newborn. And in the first three months, there’s been a 33% increase.

Sure. And I would think that some of this is around the ‘subsequent baby’ situation, which was a piece inside the Oranga Tamariki legislation put in by the previous government. I believe that the intent of that insertion was appropriate – which means that what we’re talking about here is that the mum, the parents, have already had a child that has been removed due to neglect or violence or other issues, and then they now have another baby coming. So what the intent of that legislation was was – is the second child, the subsequent child, safe?

Okay. You talk about measurable outcomes in this legislation. So what are these measurable outcomes? Are you going to put targets in place to reduce the number of Maori in care?

I don’t like targets; that’s the first thing.

So that’s a no?

Yeah, because that says that there’s an acceptable level. I want to see a reduction of— And actually, something like 80% of the Maori children who are in the care of the Oranga Tamariki are living in whanau placements. So they’re not inside care and protection areas or anything like that. They are with whanau, but the CE still technically has legal guardianship rights over them.

Well, if you look at the statistics, 59% of children in care are Maori, and yet Maori are 15% of the population.

That’s right.

Would it not be a goal to say it would be actually representative of the population?

Oh, absolutely. It’s a wonderful goal for it to be representative of the population. But let’s be clear –Oranga Tamariki cannot change all the social ills; Oranga Tamariki’s job is to protect children.

Okay, so, that case has been in the headlines, but I’ve talked to other social agencies, and they’ve given me an example of a 17-year-old who had a baby, went to have a shower after three hours and came back, and the baby had been taken.

Is that in Oranga Tamariki’s time?

Yeah. In the last year, yeah.

Right. So I would be very interested if people— In the same way that I have made the offer to Jean through the MP Meka Whaitiri, I would be very interested for them to actually email me specifically about those cases.

Okay. You talk about measurable outcomes in this legislation. So what are these measurable outcomes? Are you going to put targets in place to reduce the number of Maori in care?

I don’t like targets; that’s the first thing.

So that’s a no?

Yeah, because that says that there’s an acceptable level. I want to see a reduction of— And actually, something like 80% of the Maori children who are in the care of the Oranga Tamariki are living in whanau placements. So they’re not inside care and protection areas or anything like that. They are with whanau, but the CE still technically has legal guardianship rights over them.

Well, if you look at the statistics, 59% of children in care are Maori, and yet Maori are 15% of the population.

That’s right.

Would it not be a goal to say it would be actually representative of the population?

Oh, absolutely. It’s a wonderful goal for it to be representative of the population. But let’s be clear –Oranga Tamariki cannot change all the social ills; Oranga Tamariki’s job is to protect children.

Full transcript: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1905/S00273/the-nation-minister-for-children-tracey-martin.htm

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6 Comments

  1. Kitty Catkin

     /  18th May 2019

    They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    They leave a child in the care of druggie parents who have already proved themselves to be totally unfit to look after their children. When this one’s abused or killed (or dies of neglect) I imagine that blame would be put on OT.

    They take the child and are blamed for tearing it away from its mother/parents.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  18th May 2019

      The most recent situation involved a 19 yr old with limited parenting skills and a relationship with a thug. Anyway it predates Europeans that Maori kids , sometimes in large families and sometimes where women cohlnt have kids , could be raised by close or even more distant family.
      It even happens for European kids, often when a bit older are taken from drug addicted parent, grandparents often asked to step in

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  18th May 2019

        That one was in the paper, I think.

        I was unimpressed that the grandparents raising grandchildren organisation told the people to leave a child or two with the parents to keep their income going !!! I saw this in their own literature.

        In many families in England (and here) there is a large gap between the youngest child and the next one up; 10 years or something like that. This is a giveaway that the parents are actually the grandparents and the mother one of the older children; the child was brought up to think that she was a sister.

        I knew someone in the late 70s whose little brother (14 years younger) was actually her son.

        It didn’t go down well that a Hamilton budget advisor was telling women on the DPB (as everyone seems to call it still) to pop another out every 18 months to keep the money coming.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  18th May 2019

          One woman was on the DPB for well over 30 years !

          Reply
    • MaureenW

       /  18th May 2019

      I took a look at the Stuff special on homicides in New Zealand – it was gut wrenching reading about the 0 age babies murdered, bashed, suffocated by their carers.
      I read the recent case where there was a standoff when OT was taking the 19 yr olds baby. Make her prove she’s fit to care for the child and get rid of the violent druggie rubbish she’s living with.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  18th May 2019

        It was her 2nd one and she and the father had ‘poor parenting skills’. Their parents and grandparents probably did, too.

        I can’t believe that no help was offered, and that taking this one wasn’t the last resort.

        What are OT supposed to do ? Send it ‘home’ to druggies and abusers ?

        I hope that this time next year number 3 isn’t being removed.

        Reply

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