Raukawa-Tait calls for leadership, not another partnership

By Talisa Kupenga

The prime minister says partnerships are essential to better the way in which government interacts with whānau when uplifting children.  But Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency chairwoman Merepeka Raukawa-Tait says partnerships haven't worked in the past.

"We're saying right now that this can't continue and we have to accept responsibility ourselves," says Raukawa-Tait, "We cannot continue to have a government department saying they know what's best for us.  They do not, never have and never will."

The launch of the Whānau Ora inquiry into Oranga Tamariki over the weekend saw the largest turnout of Māori leaders since the foreshore and seabed movement.

"You wouldn't get the leadership that we've had coming in to give us good support and guidance in our inquiry, you wouldn't get that anywhere else."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, "I think that it is recognition that there is momentum now, a real sense that now is the time for us to build the partnerships to help us achieve the same goals we have."

Raukawa-Tait says, "Partnerships is a word that's bandied around.  There's usually always one partner that wants to be dominant, that believes that they know best so I've never really found them very successful."

Recommendations to government about reducing the number of Māori children in state care were made by Māori thirty years ago in the Puao-te-ata-tu report, but were largely ignored. 

Raukawa-Tait says, "We've wasted a generation, we've wasted just over 30 years where we could have used the report to inform good policy making good service delivery."

Ardern says, "The work thirty years ago- some would argue that now we have a chance to officially breathe life into that."

Terms of reference for the Māori-led inquiry are expected within three weeks.