Māori Party calls for Oranga Tamariki CEO Grainne Moss to be sacked

By Jessica Tyson

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says the country’s most senior Māori minister Kelvin Davis should sack Oranga Tamariki boss Grainne Moss, following the resignation of her most senior Māori executive, Hoani Lambert.

Lambert, handpicked for the crucial role of deputy CEO will leave Oranga Tamariki for the Department of Internal Affairs.

“The resignation of Lambert, Moss’ most senior Māori colleague, proves there are major problems that run right through Oranga Tamariki, starting at the top,” Ngarewa-Packer said.

Lambert’s initial appointment was one of an earmarked group to Oranga Tamariki leadership roles. News of Lambert’s departure was made just minutes after Moss appeared before the Waitangi Tribunal. The tribunal is investigating Oranga Tamariki and the uplift of Māori babies taken into state care.

“How long can this government have faith in a CEO who has lost the confidence of those who work for her and more importantly those she is tasked to protect? Minister Davis must act swiftly and stop this rot within Oranga Tamariki,” Ngarewa-Packer says.

Under fire

Māori leaders, including Dame Naida Glavish, Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, Lady Tureiti Moxon and Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait have been critical of the way the welfare department has dealt with Māori children and families under Moss' leadership. 

Moss, however, has said she won’t be resigning and that she has the confidence of her team.

Dame Tāriana Turia yesterday reflected on the tribunal hearing and was critical of Moss.

Asked about the way Moss answered questions in the tribunal hearing, she said, "She's creative and quite cunning. I don't think she's really answering the questions at all, and giving the impression that she's on top of her game when she talks about her staff, and the way in which staff are dealing with issues makes her sound like she's managing and controlling what's going on in the department." 

Moss says she has the full confidence of her team, but Ngarewa-Packer said Moss must do the right thing and resign.

“Digging in your heels while everyone knows you are failing is not an ideal situation,” Ngarewa-Packer says.

The Māori Party wants a Mokopuna Māori Authority to look after the welfare of all Māori babies in need in place of Oranga Tamariki.