Smoking to be banned in cars with children in them

The Government has announced that they will introduce legislation that will ban smoking in cars that have children under 18 in them.

NZ Herald:  Smoking to be banned in cars when children under 18 are present, Govt announces

Smoking will be banned in cars when children under 18 are present minister, Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa has announced.

Vaping will also be included in the prohibition and it will apply to all vehicles both parked and on the move.

“Public education and social marketing campaigns over many years have had some impact, but the rate of reduction in children exposed to smoking in vehicles is slowing. It is now time to do more by legislating,” Salesa said.

She expected the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 to be changed by the end of this year.

Once changed, police will be able to require people to stop smoking in their cars if children (under 18) are present.

They will also be able to use their discretion to give warnings, refer people to stop-smoking support services, or issue an infringement fee of $50.

It’s sad that a law for this is seen as necessary.

Will it be an effective deterrent? It’s still common to see people using cellphones while driving since that was made illegal.

Electronically monitoring the kids

Over the last few years it became a thing to justify giving children a mobile phone so parents could be at their beck and call, and theoretically so parents could keep tabs on what their children did and where they were.

This takes it to another level:

What’s next? Drone technology like this?

Mini Flipping Quadcopter 

Now you can show off your crazy pilot skills, even if you don’t really have any!

It also features headless flight mode, and return to home functions.

Remote controlled dronekids with a return to home button?

Things have already changed somewhat from the age that I grew up in. On non-school days, and after school, we roamed. We often didn’t say where we were going because we didn’t know, we just followed our whims, all over the 50 acre home property, and around a much bigger neighbourhood. We mostly kept clear of the Clutha River apart from crossing the bridge.

We managed to turn up for meal times, it was an instinct I guess.

I remember my mother getting a bit worried once. I would have been about 6, my sister 8, and we had been at one of my sister’s friend’s house, with an arrangement that we would walk home a couple of kilometres. But Mum got worried when we didn’t turn up (maybe at mealtime). She drove up the road and no sign of us. It turned out we had taken a  ‘short-cut’ going cross country. Maybe we wanted to pass by our neighbour’s cherry trees, I can’t remember – it would have been my sister’s fault. In the end no harm done.

Now kids venture away from home far less, and when they do, do parents really want electronic monitoring? At least I guess they aren’t ankle bracelets.

But is it really smart watching?

Gloriavale man convicted of beating children

A man from Gloriavale, Clem Ready, was convicted last year of beating two of his children. He has just lost he bid in the Court of Appeal to keep his name suppressed.

A daughter who ran away from Gloriavale after her sister died and complained to the police says that men are taught to be violent with their families.

Stuff: Gloriavale dad Clem Ready hit daughters with shoe, slipper, belt as discipline

A Gloriavale man who disciplined two daughters by hitting them with his hands or objects including a shoe and belt because he “thought it was doing them good” can finally be named.

Clem Ready assaulted the girls – Prayer and Constance (Connie) Ready – between 1998 to 2014, when they were aged between 5 and 17 years old.

So that’s more or less throughout their childhoods.

His battle to keep his name secret has lasted more than a year. It went all the way to the Court of Appeal where, on Thursday, his bid for name suppression was rejected.

Clem Ready first appeared in court on the charges in July last year.  He sought a discharge without conviction for the offending, but in May this year was convicted and sentenced in the Greymouth District Court to 12 months’ supervision for the abuse.

He was ordered to pay Connie Ready, who is now 24 years old, $1000 in emotional harm reparation.

Prayer Ready, who had Down syndrome, died in Gloriavale when she was 14. She choked to death on a piece of meat while in an isolation room where the door handles were disabled.

Her father was not charged for that.

Connie Ready, speaking to Stuff Circuit ahead of Thursday’s hearing, says the beatings were relentless.

“He could just be tired and come home from work, he gets annoyed so he’ll throw something at you or kick you if he gets really worked up, he’ll grab anything that’s around and lay into you with it and beat you, you know, his belt, a coat hanger, one of his tools from his work bag. Anything.”

At the May sentencing, Judge Anthony Couch said the charges related to multiple instances of assault using his open hand or objects such as a shoe, a slipper, a belt and, on one occasion, a framing square (used in carpentry).

It’s very sad to see a father resorting to beating his children.

“No estimate of the total number of assaults has been provided, but it was clearly a large number.”

“The victims were children, unable for the most part to defend themselves. The defendant was in a position of absolute authority over them. They were highly vulnerable.”

“He believed that it was appropriate, and indeed necessary, to strike his children and to cause them pain in order to discipline them and to change their behaviour. Objectively he was hurting them but, subjectively, he thought he was doing them good,” the judge said.

He hit one daughter with a framing square and explained this by saying “I was concerned for her safety and needed [her] to be like her sisters who were more respectful, happy to read or knit at home and not be so sociable.”

Using violence to try to force her into becoming what sounds like a compliant and obedient female. That’s dark ages mentality.

The judge said Clem Ready was working up to 70 hours a week. Since the offending, he had completed an anger management course, a parenting course and a restorative justice conference with Connie Ready, after which he acknowledged a sense of responsibility for the harm he caused her.

This raises a lot more questions about the well being of the other children, and also about whether this violence towards his children was isolated within one family or whether it was generally accepted practice at Gloriavale.

More detail from Stuff Circuit: OUR FATHER

“Men are taught that this is the way to run a family, to be the father of your home. If your wife won’t listen to what you say, you beat her. If your children don’t listen to you, you beat them.

“I don’t want to take away from anything that my father did because you still have a mind and a conscience and you can still say no at any point. But the system that has been created within there by the leaders – they need to be held responsible for that as well. They have allowed, encouraged, taught that this is how things should happen.”

People calling themselves Christians acting like cretins.

“I believe still there are children who suffer at the hands of their parents.”

Daily like your family did?

“Yes.”

This is alarming but not really very surprising.

Melania Trump – ‘just a jacket’

Melania Trump has increased the controversy over the treatment of children separated from their parents and effectively incarcerated after trying to cross the Mexico-US border (there are claims some arrived at the border without their parents).

Boarding a plane on her way to visit migrant kids in Texas Melania was snapped wearing a jacket with ‘I don’t really care, do u?’ emblazoned on the back.

Image:

Regardless of the reason for wearing this it was a public relations disaster waiting to happen, and so it transpired.

MSN: Social media cared about what Melania Trump wore on her way to visit migrant kids

The first lady was first photographed in the jacket — which the Daily Mail identified as a $39 jacket from fast fashion retailer Zara, though it appears to have previously sold out — boarding a plane in Maryland earlier Thursday. She was on her way to visit a shelter for migrant children, amid outrage over the Trump administration’s decision to separate thousands of children from their parents at the border. The practice was ended on Wednesday, but thousands of children have yet to be reunited with their parents.

Melania’s PR tried to play it down.

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s director of communications, sought to calm the furor and blamed the media for stirring it up.

“It’s just a jacket. There’s no message. I hope we can talk about her important visit with children today rather than her wardrobe choice,” Grisham said, earning suspicion from some quarters that the wardrobe choice was purposefully designed to bait the media.

If it was designed to bait the media it worked, but not very well for the already widely criticised Trumps. Melania had been seen as the sensitive one with some social conscience, but that image has taken a hit.

It’s debatable whether it’s “just a jacket”. Grisham and the Trumps will be well aware of media interest in what Melania might wear.

Arriving back in Maryland, Mrs. Trump was captured on camera again. The jacket was back.

That suggests it may have been a deliberate attempt at media diversion. And the Donald added to the media attention.

That’s a lame response, even by his standards.

I really don’t care if Trump tries to blame reporting on the media. Do you?

This was very insensitive, and  if it was deliberately provocative it was a a very stupid situation to be doing it in.

This later tweet doesn’t help.

Border control and caging kids

US border control has been in the spotlight more than ever, as a promised clampdown on illegal immigration from Mexico ramps up, and as threatened, children are being separated from parents and contained in cage-like structures.

Being tough on immigration is popular, but being heartless with kids involved is not going down so well.

As usual Donald Trump’s rhetoric is swinging wildly – From ‘I Alone Can Fix It’ to ‘Change the Laws!’

Nearly two years ago, on July 21, 2016, Donald Trump stood at a lectern in Cleveland and made a solemn vow.

“Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” he said.

To his critics, this line was chilling, even authoritarian, defying the democratic nature of the American system. But to many of Trump’s supporters, it was a heartening moment—a sign that he would not allow himself to be tied up in red tape and mealy-mouthed excuses. There would be none of the vacillating and hand-wringing of the Obama administration. President Trump would not hesitate.

Candidate Trump was clear that he was talking, in large part, about immigration, which had been the central issue of his campaign:

Tonight, I want every American whose demands for immigration security have been denied—and every politician who has denied them—to listen very closely to the words I am about to say. On January 21st of 2017, the day after I take the oath of office, Americans will finally wake up in a country where the laws of the United States are enforced. We are going to be considerate and compassionate to everyone.

So Trump promised to be both tough and compassionate.

But his administration also threatened that their children would be separated if illegal immigrants tried to cross the border.

In fact, as my colleagues and I have reported repeatedly, the policy dates to May, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the federal government would prosecute everyone caught crossing the border illegally. Because an existing legal settlement bars children from being imprisoned, that decision means children and parents are separated. The Trump administration knew this would happen from the start.

In May, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly described separations as “a tough deterrent” to those who might try to cross. Sessions said around the same time, “If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally.”

There were clear warnings – those wanting to cross the border may not have heard them, but the intention was clear.

Image result for caging children usa

And now that this is being done and criticism mounts – including from Trump’s wife and all four other living ex- First Ladies – Mr Fixit is now blaming others.

Trump and the Republicans rule in the White House.

Republicans have a majority in both the Senate and Congress.

So it’s rather disingenuous to blame a clearly signalled family separation policy on the Democrats who have no power to change laws.

But that’s how Trump operates – talks a big game, but blames his political opponents or the media if things don’t look good.

The US has had very loose immigration control for a long time and a clampdown is justified. The splitting of children from parents as a threat tactic is more debatable.

But Trump hasn’t got the integrity to own his administration’s actions.

‘Caging’ kids is not even new. June 2014 (pre-Trump): Immigrant children flood detention center

Young boys sleep in a holding cell U.S. Customs and

Holding cell, US Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center, 18 June 2014.
https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/childrens-concentration-camp/

Trump could blame a Democrat administration for doing it too, but instead he tries to blame them now for something his administration is responsible for it.

Building Blocks for improving the wellbeing of children

The Children’s Convention Monitoring Group has released a report called Getting It Right: Building Blocks that details where progress is being made and suggests future action.

Key recommendations:

  • taking children and their views into account when new policies are developed
  • supporting children’s participation in decisions that affect them
  • ensuring children’s privacy and best interests are considered when collecting their information
  • using the Children’s Convention to develop a plan for children and their wellbeing.

So I guess this report was a pre-plan. This sounds quite vague feel-good stuff.

NZH: Children’s Convention Monitoring Group releases report to better child wellbeing

Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft said the Government promised 25 years ago to do better for all children when it signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Now New Zealand needed to walk towards that goal.

The convention is a human rights treaty which sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children.

Becroft described past work on child wellbeing as “ad hoc” and this report offered a coherent plan.

“If we’re going to mean business to do better for New Zealand children then this report says we have to put in place some key building blocks to get there.

“These are foundations. If they are not in place welfare is not going to make any real progress … We’re better than this.

“We can do so much better for our children.”

We (New Zealand) should be striving to do better for our children. Most parents and families already strive to do the best they can for their children.

There are 1.1 million children and young people under 18 years old in Aotearoa. Around 20 per cent are not doing well and 10 per cent are really struggling with issues ranging from abuse and neglect, material deprivation and poor health to difficulties learning at school.

In 2016 the United Nations gave New Zealand 47 urgent recommendations to improve child wellbeing, including addressing negative outcomes for Māori and Pasifika children, reducing high rates of violence, abuse and neglect. This report would address that, Becroft said.

Problems of violence, abuse and neglect are adult problems, with children being the victims.

“Recent initiatives such as the Child Poverty Reduction Bill and the proposed Child Wellbeing Strategy are positive steps towards improving the lives of children in New Zealand.

“We need to ensure these are not one-off actions.

Minister for Children Tracey Martin said they were broadly supportive of the report and would assess the viability of the recommendations.

“The Ministry of Social Development is already working on key recommendations including co-ordination, training and tools, children’s participation and raising awareness. MSD will deliver an online Child Impact Assessment tool in the near future.

“NZ is committed to major progress on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

Voyce Whakarongo Mai chief executive Dr Ainsleigh Cribb-Su’a expressed excitement over the report.

“It explicitly implores the Government to mandate the incorporation of a child impact analyses on all legislation and policy development processes.

“Seeking out children’s views on service design is essential. It is their future that we are designing, let’s incorporate their views in all that we develop.”

I get a feeling this is largely high level academic type paper pushing. I’m sure some good can come out of it, but there needs to be real life improvements more than ideals on paper.

“Seeking out children’s views on service design” may be essential, but how many kids in deprived living conditions with violent or addicted parents are going to give a toss about “service design’. That just want to feel safe and loved – and this report seems to be way above this basic level of care.

Kids living in bad situations  need help and support, and I feel that fancy words and human rights are way over the top of that, trying to make a few adults feel good about doing something.

Record number of children in state care

There is a record number of children in state care, in part because the eligible age rising from 17 to 18 last year. This could be good or bad news, or both.

If an increasing number of children need state care for their safety and well being it is good that they are being cared for, but it must be a concern at the number requiring care.

RNZ: Record number of children in state care – more than 6000

There are now more than 6000 children in state care – an all-time record high.

Oranga Tamariki said about half of that increase was due to the age of state care rising from 17 to 18 last year.

Up from 5600 a year ago.

But Oranga Tamariki, the ministry that replaced Child, Youth and Family a year ago, is struggling to recruitenough caregivers to keep up with the increasing demand on its services.

Figures provided by the ministry show that at the end of February, Oranga Tamariki had about 3800 caregivers on its books.

It can be a difficult job to do.

The ministry’s general manager of caregiver recruitment and support, Janet Smart, said there was a caregiver shortfall.

For every extra child in state care, ideally there would be an extra caregiver, Ms Smart said.

Jonelle McNeill from Barnardos, which is contracted by Oranga Tamariki to provide foster carers, said there was a large unmet need for caregivers.

“I understand for Auckland, at any given time, there is a shortfall of up to 20 caregivers, particularly for children who have got challenging behaviours.”

Looking after some of society’s most vulnerable children was not easy, Ms McNeill said.

“It’s a really tough job … but not just anybody can be a caregiver.”

Oranga Tamariki said it had piloted a 24-7 caregiver support line, which would be rolled out nationally in the first half of this year.

A hot-line already in use is busy – RNZ: Child abuse hotline overwhelmed by calls

A pre-school manager trying to report an at-risk child to Oranga Tamariki was on hold for over half an hour with no answer, then again for 20 minutes, she says.

The incident yesterday left the manager, Jane*, worried that ordinary members of the public having to wait this long may give up and that cases of child abuse may go unreported.

Set up last year as the replacement for Child, Youth and Family, one of Oranga Tamariki’s main stated objectives is to put the safety of children first.

Those wanting to report cases of abuse or neglect are directed to the agency’s website to call a special toll free number.

Jane said she had gone to do so after being told about an incident involving a child and a parent.

“The child, I perceived, was at risk. There was certainly an erratic, aggressive parent involved and other issues that I had just learned of that day. Certainly the child could be at risk.”

After getting through to Oranga Tamariki’s Auckland call centre and providing some details of what had happened, Jane was told she would be put through to a social worker.

But after waiting for 31 minutes on hold, Jane gave up.

Help lines, and care giving, need to be properly resourced to meet demand. As well as being necessary regardless of cost, it is likely to save money in the long run.

 

Far too many toys, better options

Many children are given far too many toys. It isn’t good for them, and the costs is not good for families. Simple old fashioned play endures.

A toyshop owner in Dunedin who is getting out of the business makes these points in: Toyworld story coming to an end

A Dunedin toy shop owner is set to end a 14-year career of ‘‘fun’’.

Linda Verity bought Toyworld Dunedin when it was in the Golden Centre in 2004, then moved it to Vogel St for a year in 2010 before space in Arthur Barnett in the Meridian Mall became available to sub-lease seven years ago.

Now she is closing the store.

Owning a toy shop was ‘‘fun’’, she said.

‘‘It’s cool to sell toys.’’

As any kid will know it’s also cool to get toys. But too many toys has been a problem for a long time.

I remember a family Christmas last century, actually the second Christmas event of the day, an afternoon gathering. After another round of present opening some nephews started chanting “we want more presents, we want more presents”.  At Christmas it can be more common to see a child looking for the next present rather than enjoying and valuing the one they just opened.

Parents give more presents now, and present giving circles have widened substantially to what I experienced as a child – now it’s not just children but also siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunties – there is relentless pressure for the present list to grow.

Ms Verity:

Over the 14 years, children had stopped playing with toys at a younger age

In the past, toys could be sold to children aged up to 14 but now older children preferred cellphones or video games.

‘‘We struggle to find something for an 8-year-old girl.’’

A 10-year-old boy was a struggle to buy for if he didn’t like Lego or science kits.

She’s right. Boys in particular from 8 onwards want something electronic, preferably game related.

She wished people would buy their child one quality toy for Christmas.

‘‘Obviously it goes against the grain because I want to sell them toys but it would be nice not to swamp kids with too many toys, but they do — they want to spoil them.’’

But kids are increasingly swamped, and decreasingly appreciative of what they get.

It’s hard to resist the commercialisation of Christmas, and birthdays, and movies, and just going to get a burger.

I know of one 6 year old who has now over 70 cat toys, ranging from large and expensive, to cheap repeats, where sets and series purchases are pushed, both by marketers and by children.

It is nuts.

I’ve had grandchildren staying over the past couple of weeks. They have really liked a couple of RC cars. But things they have enjoyed over and over:

  • Feeding the hens and collecting eggs, this is a daily compulsion
  • Tree hut
  • Trolley (well used for years)
  • ‘Monster swing’ made from hanging a rope between two trees
  • Digging – a grubber has been popular
  • ‘Tree trampoline’ – a pile of gum tree branches
  • Tree stumps
  • A collection of wood offcuts have been recycled yet again
  • I sliced some branches of different sizes to make some wooden money
  • Back yard cricket
  • A 4 year old has used a fly swatter for a number of things (not swatting flies)

We have visited six different beaches, several playgrounds, gardens, aviary, all only petrol cost. At one playground the most popular thing was a tree for climbing for two children, and the third played most with a branch (at one stage it was a TV, and sticks were rempte controls).

The only significant expense has been $47 for four adults and four children for four hours at the fifty years old Moana Pool. Wave pool, water slide, river, diving boards, inflated obstacle course. This facility is better than any pool complex I have been to in Brisbane (and there the queues for the water slides are awful, strictly controlled and long).

Battery fueled plastic crap usually has a short life span. Some old play pastimes are timeless.

The best thing you can give children is time and engagement. And it’s a lot of fun for adults too.

Inquiry into abuse of children in state care

The Labour Party has made a commitment to set up an inquiry into the historic abuse of children in state care, something National had refused to do when in government.

Labour Party:  Taking action in our first 100 days

Labour will hit the ground running in government, with a programme of work across housing, health, education, families, the environment and other priority areas.

  • Set up an inquiry into the abuse of children in state care

In February this year an open letter called for an inquiry:  Prominent Kiwis call for independent inquiry into claims of abuse of children in state care

Prominent Kiwis have banded together to demand an independent inquiry into the claims of sexual and physical abuse of children in state care.

The Human Rights Commission has spearheaded an open letter to the Government, published in today’s Herald, calling for a comprehensive inquiry and a public apology to those who were abused, and their families, in what is described as a dark chapter of our history.

Among the 29 signatories of what now underpins the “Never Again” petition to the Government are Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy, Chief Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner and former National MP Jackie Blue, former Mental Health Foundation chief executive Judi Clements, and the Otago University dean of law, Professor Mark Henaghan.

The background to their call is:

• In 2001 the Government issued an apology and compensation to a group of former patients of the former Lake Alice psychiatric hospital, after a report by a retired judge who had interviewed them and found their claims credible.

• The issue spread to former patients of other asylums and the Government set up a confidential listening service for them to speak of the abuse they had suffered.

• Former state wards made claims for abuse in state care and a listening service was created for them.

• The head of that service, Judge Carolyn Henwood, recommended creating an independent body to resolve historic and current complaints.

• The Government last year rejected that recommendation.

Greens supported this letter and an inquiry: Greens support call for inquiry into state care

The Green Party backs today’s open letter from the Human Rights Commission and others calling for a government inquiry into the abuse of children in state care, and for a formal apology to be made to the victims.

“There is a growing list of organisations and people who are calling for a government inquiry into the abuse of children in the state’s care. It seems everyone but the Government realises that an inquiry and a formal apology are essential to helping the victims find some sense of closure, and to ensure that children in state care now and in the future are protected from abuse,” said Green Party social development spokesperson Jan Logie.

“The prominent New Zealanders signing this letter today have seen the effects and heard the evidence about the abuse of children in state care, and because of that they are calling for an inquiry and apology.

“Not every child in state care suffered abuse, but the fact that so many did means that it is crucial that there is accountability from the system that perpetrated this abuse.

NZ First MP Tracey Martin is now Minister for Children and was interviewed about an inquiry in the weekend – The Nation: Lisa Owen interviews Tracey Martin


Lisa Owen: Now, the new government’s committed to an inquiry into the abuse of children in state care. The move’s been welcomed, but there are few details that have been released so far. So how will it all work? We’re joined now by the new Minister for Children, New Zealand First’s Tracey Martin. Good morning, Minister.

So, the inquiry — what are you thinking? Will it have the power to compel witnesses?

Tracey Martin: And all of these details, unfortunately, are still to be worked through. So I’ve had two meetings with officials to clarify what are our options, what sort of inquiry will it be, will it have those sort of powers, who will we consult before we even scope out the cabinet paper, for example, to take it to cabinet. So at this stage, I can’t answer that question 100%.

Lisa Owen: It’s on your 100 day plan.

Tracey Martin: It’s on the Labour Party’s 100 day plan that this government will deliver, yes.

Lisa Owen: Yeah, and so you’re part of that.

Tracey Martin: Yes, we are.

Lisa Owen: So in terms of that, you’re running out of time to come up with these answers, so what are you thinking, though? If not having a solid idea, do you think it would be the best-case scenario to be able to compel witnesses?

Tracey Martin: It’s not something that I’ve traversed at the moment with the officials. The major priority that we had was actually around making sure that within the 100 days, so the 4th of February is the close-off date — 3rd, 4th of February is the close-off date that we’re talking about — that we will have in place a basis for an inquiry that will provide an opportunity for those who have been victims to come forward with comfort to be able to express their truth, to be able to be validated in that truth and to feel that they have received the justice and the validation that they need. So those are the things that have been the driving part of the conversations at this stage.

Lisa Owen: Okay, because the brief is to get it set up in the 100 days.

Tracey Martin: Yes, that’s right.

Lisa Owen: So will the inquiry have the scope to attribute blame?

Tracey Martin: Well, it’s one of those things. If you look at the Never Again campaign, that was never a driver. It wasn’t about finding somebody or something to hang some guilt on. It was about making sure that the truth was told, that we bravely face actions that took place in this country that harmed individuals and that those individuals received an apology.

Lisa Owen: But the victims want truth and accountability, so will there be accountability through this inquiry?

Tracey Martin: I guess what I’m driving at is basically saying that if you put out the truth, there are going to have to be recognition by the state that this is what happened to these people and they were under the care of the state at that time. If you’re asking me are there going to be people that are then going to be charged or held accountable through the justice system, I can’t make that statement, because I’m not in charge of the justice system.

Lisa Owen: What period will the inquiry investigate?

Tracey Martin: Well, at this stage, that’s part of the scoping that’s being done, and I don’t want to actually pre-empt that. There are at least 20 organisations that the officials are now talking to before we take a proposed scope to cabinet.

Lisa Owen: So you mentioned an apology. There will definitely be a formal apology from the government?

Tracey Martin: Again, I can’t make that commitment on behalf of the government. I can tell you where I’m coming from.

Lisa Owen: Yeah, tell me where you’re coming from.

Tracey Martin: So, where I’m coming from is if we stand in our truth and we bravely say, ‘This is the reality that happened to these New Zealanders under the care of the state,’ then the state has a responsibility to acknowledge that, to own it and therefore there should be an apology. But I don’t speak on behalf of the whole government. That has to go to cabinet.

Lisa Owen: Who do you think would be the appropriate person to make that apology, then?

Tracey Martin: I don’t know. I had this question asked of me on Te Karere as well. I don’t know. Because I’ve been in the job two weeks, let’s be clear. I don’t know whether it would be appropriate for a minister at my level, whether it should come from the Prime Minister, whether it should even be bigger than that.

Lisa Owen: What’s your gut feeling? Should it be the Prime Minister?

Tracey Martin: I think if we’re going to take responsibility for what is actually going to come out in this inquiry, and we have a very clear idea of the sort of the incidents that are going to be exposed, then it’s a very, very serious— it’s very serious acts that have taken place here, and I think it needs to be dealt with at the highest level.

Lisa Owen: So Prime Minister, then, in your view. So do you think that you will set up some kind of independent authority, a permanent independent authority, like the IPCA, to monitor treatment of kids in care and the actions of the ministry? Is that something you would like to see?

Tracey Martin: Yes, I think there is a need for that. I think it’s that transparency that we’re hoping to actually— Part of what Oranga Tamariki, the reason why it was set up by the previous government and part of the direction of travel it’s in now is to make sure that we are more transparent, that we are working more closely with our communities, that the voice of children is heard more often. And so an independent body whereby complaints can be taken, I think, would be a really good and transparent thing. It would help both the ministry and our children.

Lisa Owen: How much will is there to do that?

Tracey Martin: I think there’s quite strong will to do that.

Lisa Owen: So you’re quite confident you can get that over the line?

Tracey Martin: I think— Well, I’m fairly confident about my argumentative skills, so I believe that it would be in the best interest of children.

Lisa Owen: So Labour supports it, basically, is what I’m asking.

Tracey Martin: At this stage, again, I haven’t taken it to cabinet, but I believe the will is there to actually say there needs to be this level of transparency.

 

Disadvantaged children

The problem with waifs and strays is obviously not a new problem:

There are 4123 children under the control of the department. The Minister states that it is well that the State is prepared to stand `in loco parentis’ to this large family of waifs and strays, but it is a matter for public concern that year after year there should be a constant supply of such children claiming the State as its foster-parent.

It has to be admitted with regret that home influence is not so strong nor of so fine a type as it was a generation ago. It has often been urged that, rather than the children, parents who have proved themselves unfit to be parents should be placed under restriction. It certainly seems to be the height of folly to take children from a home which is judged to be unfit for children and from parents who are unfit to rear children, and yet to wait year by year for the succession of additional children which proceeds from the same home.

In many cases the evil effects cannot be remedied even if the children are taken charge of from infancy, for physical or mental infirmity are often stamped on the children for life through the moral or physical degeneracy of their parents.

There has never been easy solutions to bad parents and parenting,  and unsatisfactory home situations for children.

That’s from the ODT 26-9-1917: https://www.odt.co.nz/opinion/100-years-ago/industrial-school-system