Māori midwife says the uplifting of tamariki needs to stop

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

CEO of Māori Midwives Aotearoa, Jean Te Huia says Māori women are being dehumanised as mothers by colonisation.  Backed by Ngāti Kahungunu, Te Huia has started the "Not One More Baby to be Taken" Facebook page to gather the stories of those who have been affected by the uplifting of children.

“They continue this insidious behaviour towards Māori women and, without apologising, they continue to take our babies,” she says.

More than 170 Māori newborns were uplifted and taken into state care last year.

Te Huia says it is systemic racism within the health sector that directly impacts Māori mothers.  

“So we know that the system is against Māori women, the number of Māori babies uplifted is disproportionate to the number of everybody else, we know that the abuse of these Māori babies in care is real.”

A midwife for 28 years, Te Huia has been working with indigenous women in Canada and Australia, who she says experience the same issues.

“I think it's important to realise that Canada and Australia, their governments apologised to their indigenous women.  New Zealand has never apologised, they've never apologised for the stealing of Māori babies and the reason for that is because they don't believe they're doing anything wrong.”

Conducting a PhD study titled 'Māori women dehumanised as mothers by colonisation', Te Huia is looking to identify areas where kaupapa Māori frameworks can be implemented.

“Our main priority is keeping their babies safe and this is about the safety and the care of these babies- and giving the mana back to the whānau, where it should be,” says Te Huia.

"A number of very strong, intelligent academic Māori women have been saying this for years, Dr Leonie Pihama, Dr Fiona Cram, Dr Linda Smith- the evidence is there.  We know that kaupapa Māori theories work and we need to be able to introduce those into these mainstream services."

Te Huia is working with Ngāti Kahungunu to seek alternative solutions for Māori families being affected.