Iwi Chairs raise concern over lack of Māori representation

By Tepara Koti

Iwi Chairs are concerned about the lack of Māori representation in the expert panel that has been set up to review Child Youth and Family (CYF).

Sonny Tau, Chairman of the Whānau Ora Iwi Leaders Group, has penned their concerns to Social Development Minister, Anne Tolley.

He says, “At our recent hui at Whangaehu Marae (6 May) concerns were raised that it appeared Māori representation had been excluded from the Minister’s Expert Panel, and yet there is a disproportionately high number of Māori children who have been referred to youth justice facilities; to care and protection residences, or to the care of CYFS (sic).”

He continues to say, “Māori have been saying for decades now, let us be the designer of our own solutions.  It is somewhat confusing that a Government which has been bold enough to invest in Whānau Ora is unprepared to show that same test of faith in the care of our tamariki mokopuna.

Aotearoa can be proud of our reputation, internationally, for the ground-breaking legislation (the Children, Young Persons, and their Families Act 1989) including the principle relationship between a child or young person and his or her family, whānau, hapū, iwi, and family group should be maintained and strengthened."

Tau explains, "The provision in the Act for the Family Group Conference paved the way for involving whānau in decision-making about the care of their child.  The FGC is a key legal mechanism for addressing child protection alongside the strengthening of whānau.

Given the demographic profile and the enthusiasm and commitment of Māori to be involved in reforming the child welfare system, we are extremely concerned at the actions of the Minister in keeping Māori expertise out of an area in which we have so much to offer.”