Waatea Marae chairman Willie Jackson says "tikanga before taking" will be a key focus of the Whānau Ora inquiry into Oranga Tamariki, The inquiry is the only one of four that will be led by Māori investigating the uplifting process of Māori babies.
"It's about who's taking those babies, who's looking after those babies, are they going to the right whānau in terms of whakapapa? Get all that tikanga right. A lot of our people are sick and tired of being the afterthought," Jackson says.
Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency chairwoman Merepeka Raukawa-Tait says, "[Families] do not trust the Ministry for Children and so there's no relationship there but they will talk to us."
Waatea Marae will host a national hui to launch the inquiry Saturday.
Both Jackson and Raukawa-Tait say taking children before tikanga will be a key topic.
Jackson says, "It’s not right to go straight to the family. They need to speak to iwi first. That is a major problem right now."
Raukawa-Tait says, "When you've got a Ministry for Children that really disrespects families, they believe that our families are rotten- and that's an expression I've heard them use- and when you come in to a situation and that's how you're going to treat the families, the families just close up."
Oranga Tamariki deputy chief executive Allan Boreham disputes Raukawa-Tait’s comments and says respecting the mana of people is one of the agency’s core values.
“The comments as reported are contrary to everything we stand for and are not something I have ever heard in my time at Oranga Tamariki," says Boreham, “In fact, I’m constantly impressed by the deep respect shown by our staff to whānau.”
Māori made recommendations to government about reducing the number of Māori children in state care thirty years ago in the Puao-te-ata-tu report, which was largely ignored.
Jackson says that document will serve as a blue print for this inquiry. He also wants a group established to work alongside the Ministry for Children and the minister as a result of tomorrow's meeting.