The role of Iwi with abused kids

Michael Fox at Stuff reports:

The Green Party wants iwi empowered to oversee the placement of Maori children removed from unsafe homes under proposed child-protection laws.

Co-leader Metiria Turei said Maori children were far more likely to be affected by the changes and called the Government’s plan “a condescending colonial approach that New Zealand could do without”.

Calling something a “colonial” approach is a lazy way of saying you disagree with it. How is it a colonial approach? Does it target Maori kids only?

Having said that, I’d love Iwi to take a more prominent role in helping prevent , and having them involved in placement of kids could be well worth considering.

The Maori Party said yesterday that every effort should be made to ensure Maori children removed from their parents’ care were placed with extended family.

As I understand it, that is the current policy of CYF and the courts. But there is a problem with the status quo policy.

Sometimes an entire extended family is dysfunctional. There have been examples of kids getting abused or neglected multiple times as they rotate through various family members.

Of course it is better for a kid to go to an aunt/uncle or a cousin, than a stranger. But only if they are capable, competent and willing. Not all extended families are.

Turei said yesterday that the Greens wanted extra iwi oversight over new permanent placements for Maori children removed from their parents if they were settled outside of their wider families.

“Given that the Social Development Ministry and population data show Maori kids are three times as likely to be removed from their parents as non-Maori, extra care is needed to ensure tamariki will be genuinely better off in the state’s care,” she said.

As I said, I think that could well be worthwhile. It may depend though on how connected a family is to their Iwi. Many urban Maori do not have strong connections to their Iwi.

Turei repeated criticism that the Government was not addressing poverty in its proposed measures, even though it was a major contributor to child abuse.

People use poverty as an excuse to do nothing. Our rate of child abuse is far higher than many countries with far far worse poverty. To imply that all the Government needs to do is increase the level of welfare in New Zealand and you solve child abuse is simplistic. We actually have one of the most generous welfare states in the world.

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