Iwi Chairs call communities to speak out about child abuse

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Iwi Chairs are calling on communities to pull together, speak out and address child abuse. The call is in relation to The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation.

Iwi leaders are concerned with the alarming rates of child abuse.

Iwi Chairs Forum representative Rāhui Papa says, “This is a community problem, the impact of having another culture imposed upon us, this is one of the results within generations.”

Iwi Chairs met in Hopuhopu to discuss recommendations to Ministers regarding the Oranga Tamariki Bill, which is one of the items that was tabled.

“Firstly, to have an input in the Bill. Secondly, the methods of practice in this sector, of child welfare, to ensure that culturally appropriate processes are actioned.”

According to statistics on areyouok.org, 14% of young people report being hit or physically harmed on purpose by an adult at home in the last 12 months. 20% of girls and 9% of boys in New Zealand report unwanted sexual touching or being forced to do sexual things. However, it is thought that the majority of child abuse cases go unreported.

Iwi Chairs Forum representative Sir Toby Curtis, says “We stay silent. It's discrete and not openly discussed. The time has come for us to speak out, not to leave it for families alone, but for the community and the entire tribe to express our thoughts on that issue."

Papa reiterates, “Do not sweep it under the carpet. Do not just watch it being done and remain silent. Go directly to the person, or go and seek help for them."

The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill is currently in Parliament and will have its second reading in coming months.