Returning tamariki to their whanau top priority for Assistant Children's Commissioner

By Whatitiri Te Wake

The people of the East Coast today arrived at Pipitea Marae in Wellington, bringing with them one of their own as she assumed her new position as Assistant Commissioner Māori for Children.

Glenis Phillip Barbara of Ngāti Porou has spent the past 30 years working in the community and was the former Māori Language Commissioner. She said returning tamariki to their whanau was her main focus

“Ko te whakahirahiratanga ko tenei mahi he māngai mo ngā tamariki, ngā tamariki huri noa i te motu. Ka tangi taku ngākau ki ngā tamariki kaare a rātou nei whānau. Ngā tamariki huri rauna i roto i te tari o oranga tamariki kia whai tonu i o ratou whānau. Tangi tonu te ngākau kia rātou ko rātou taku tino aronga i tenei wā tonu.”

She joins Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft. He said having Phillip Barbara join the team meant genuine input into the Children's Commission's work. “What we're saying is no longer can any organisation in New Zealand and certainly our organisation focusing on children not be widened to, not have embedded into part of its DNA, the Māori view. Not just as an external adviser, not just as an inputter but somebody we work together with shoulder to shoulder so that there's a Māori perspective to everything we do."

The commission has wasted no time in preparing for the new government and appointment of a new Minister for Children. They have a report ready with numerous recommendations for Oranga Tamariki. Judge Becroft is quietly confident at Kelvin Davis' new appointment.

“We've squandered opportunities in New Zealand time after time for earlier prevention and assistance and this is the time. What I think the government has done by appointing Minister Davis is to send an unmistaken signal that things have to change," he said.

The report will be presented to Minister Davis before the end of this month.