Iwi oversight needed for Maori child removals - Greens

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said extra care is needed to ensure Maori children are genuinely better off in the state's care.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said extra care is needed to ensure Maori children are genuinely better off in the state's care.

Extra iwi oversight is needed over new, permanent out-of-family placements for Maori children who are three times as likely to be removed from their families as non-Maori, the Green Party says.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday unveiled new laws that would prevent some parents from having access to any future children and would see more children permanently taken away from their families.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said extra care is needed to ensure Maori children are genuinely better off in the state's care.

Ms Turei's comments echo those of Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, that the State was too quick to take Maori children away from their families and extended communities.

Ministry of Social Development statistics show about 4000 children - about half of whom are Maori - are in out-of-home placements.

Maori children make up about 25 per cent of the child population in New Zealand, so are three times as likely as non-Maori to be in out of home care, Ms Turei said.

"Of course, Child Youth and Family must act to protect Maori children, and all Kiwi kids, when they are in danger.

"But given the huge over-representation of Maori children in the state's care, whanau, iwi and hapu must have additional guarantees they'll be involved in any decision to remove a child from their home.

"The prospect of more Maori children being raised in strangers' homes is hugely concerning," she said.

Ms Turia said she'd recently returned from Australia where politicians there are strongly promoting the adoption of Aboriginal children, resulting in more being removed from their homes.

"All the experts here say that by addressing poverty, we'd remove a huge stressor on families that is connected to increased rates of child maltreatment and neglect.

"Paula Bennett's threatening and punitive approach is likely to drive vulnerable families further underground, rather than encouraging them to put up their hands for help."

- APNZ

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