Māori Women's Welfare League want to be included in decision making

By Tema Hemi

Oranga Tamariki has been a hot topic of conversation at the 67th AGM of the Māori Women's Welfare League (Te Rōpū Wāhine Māori Toko i te Ora). League President Prue Kapua says the government must include the league more when making decisions around Oranga Tamariki.

An elderly league member from Waikaremoana says, "It's not good. It used to be the responsibility of the kuia or grandparents to look after the children, but now it's just all wrong."

More inclusion at the decision-making table will help provide a better solution for Māori families. 

Kapua says, "We really want to see them operating in a way that involves us more. We have examples in Blenheim where our branches are involved with the Oranga Tamariki down there and they have quite a collaborative approach."

League members agree that they have more to offer to better enhance the lives of Māori children and their families. 

One league member from Te Tairāwhiti says, "The pillar of the family is the woman. The centre pillar is the woman. The underpinning column is also the woman."

Another says, "That is the league's objective to try and restore good health and practices both spiritually and physically."  

Labour MP Louisa Wall knows well the league's capacity to achieve better solutions through a holistic approach.   

Wall says, "Kaupapa such as what happens with our women and our tamariki within the context of Oranga Tamariki, overall for us, it's all an opportunity to come together to whakawhānaungatanga, and also through our collective voices to highlight the issues that we think that are important for Māori."

Kapua also says, "The government has to realise that actually they don't have the answers for us. They need to be talking to us, not imposing their views on how it should be handled."

The Māori Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki is at phase two and is calling for feedback nationwide. 

"That's going to be much better in terms of good decisions and in terms of decisions that are good for our tamariki and good for giving support for our whānau," Kapua says.

The solutions to these pressing issues for the well-being of future generations are in the hands of this gathering of Māori women.