Raukawa-Tait challenges Oranga Tamariki to step aside

By Regan Paranihi

The Whānau Ora Commissioning Chair, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait (Te Arawa), is questioning the role of Oranga Tamariki following a damning practice review of the government department.

Raukawa-Tait says rather than picking up where they left off, the Government needs to look to Whānau Ora organisations across the country to combat the problem as the current system is failing and needs to go.

"If after two years this is what we've got, the best they can do, then it's not good enough. So what we're saying is step aside for those who can actually do the job," she says.

High profile Māori lawyer Annette Sykes (Te Arawa) has also weighed in on the debate calling for Oranga Tamariki Minister Tracey Martin to get off the fence and come up with real solutions.

"This isn't the first time, the second or the third time this year. Us in the Māori world have been thinking about this and the Minister needs to do something rather than sitting on the fence. Get off the fence and think how do we straighten this out," Sykes says.

"Turn to the way Māori think and the way Māori work and there lays the solution for our next generation."

Raukawa-Tait says Oranga Tamariki is not being well led.

"If they haven't been doing the job well enough, what we're saying now is that you need to step aside," she says.

However, Oranga Tamariki chief executive Grainne Moss says she is not considering resigning.

"No I haven't, I committed to this job for the long haul and I'm not about to leave now when the going gets tough," Moss says.

Raukawa-Tait says there are many changes that need to happen.

"We want the uplifting of children prevented, but more importantly we want prevention. We want early intervention and we want it done by the people who families trust."

Moss says collective input is required to solve this problem.

"This is not a problem that only money will solve, this is a problem that the community, the hapū, whānau, iwi and government agencies [need] to solve."

However, Moss accepts her organisation has more it needs to do.

"We've always said we have work to do and what this review says is that we continue to have work to do."

Raukawa-Tait says there has been a breakdown in trust.

"Where there is no trust there is no relationship and no nothing good will ever happen."

However, Raukawa-Tait says Māori organisations given the same resources could solve many of the current problems.

"We could change absolutely everything in terms of poor health, poor housing and our parenting, obviously that's very important. All of these things we can change given the resources to do so."

Raukawa-Taiti intends taking her concerns up with Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare.