Petition for Oranga Tamariki name change gains traction online

By Talisa Kupenga

An online petition demanding Oranga Tamariki change its name had reached 9,000 signatures Friday afternoon.

Action Station’s "Remove Oranga Tamariki as the name for CYPFs" petition follows public backlash at the way the Ministry for Children uplifts babies from their Māori mothers.

Action Station spokesperson Laura O’Connell-Rapira says Oranga Tamariki is not living up to its name, which centres on the wellbeing of children.

"You cannot carry the name Oranga Tamariki whilst uplifting, or stealing really- uplifting is a much nicer term than the reality- forcefully taking Māori babies and children from their whānau, hapū and their iwi."

Two years since the name change signatories are demanding the organisation reverts back to its original name Child Youth and Family service (CYFS).

O’Connell-Rapira says, "The way that CYFS is currently operating, I'm going to use the name CYFS for the purpose of this interview, their operating is not in line with the aspirational vision that Oranga Tamariki as a name portrays."

Te Ao Māori news asked Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson if she thought Oranga Tamariki was just a name loaned from the Māori language without the tikanga behind it.

Davidson says, "I disagree that the agency is currently operating to a kaupapa Māori understanding of the oranga of tamariki."

O’Connell-Rapira says, "It's more than just a label that you slap on a report or an agency and continue to do harm to Māori communities.  It's everything that those words and the visions that are associated with those words entail."

Oranga Tamariki CEO Grainne Moss says "We're incredibly open to working differently to get different outcomes for Māori."

Te Ao Māori News asked Moss how Māori families could trust Oranga Tamariki and its work.

Moss says, “We have a range of partnerships and that has been talked about, the strategic partnerships, there is also very important work on the ground and we have a number of Māori leaders that sit on our care and resource protection panels.”

O’Connell-Rapira is calling for "a complete overhaul or a complete restructuring of the way that CYFS operates to be fundamentally based on a kaupapa Māori whānau-centred approach that's not what we have right now".

A spokesperson for the independent statutory Māori Language promotion body Te Mātāwai says they would “welcome any discussion with our partners, the Crown and their agencies with regards to giving Māori names to government departments".

The petition is one of three expected to be delivered to parliament on July 30.