If you were to ask any of my staff of social workers what is the toughest task you have to deal with they will all tell you in a heartbeat - "Uplifting a baby from their mother".
No one wants to do it but there are times when they know if they don't, then that baby is in real danger.
If an uplift is unjustified and the whānau have support agencies/whānau assisting them with plans and positive change have been made my staff will fight for the justice and rights of the whānau, to have their children returned.
The kōrero over this past week or so has been highly emotive and the calls made by iwi elders for "not one more baby" to be uplifted are understandable.
When you are the shepherd for a flock of social workers who work at the frontline of the poverty battle, you get a close-up to the cause and effect of why this trauma happens on a daily basis.
From there you follow a sea change from the war stories as we call them to the stories of success.
At the moment when it comes to the countless war stories of babies being uplifted from their mothers we are as a country under a long dark cloud of desperation for answers as to why.
How do we find a pathway forward to one where the wellbeing of whānau is paramount?
One thing I do know when it comes to dealing with tragedy and trauma on a daily basis is - If we continue to dwell on the "war stories" we will drown in them.
Is our future one where water from the tap is off the menu?
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So let's unpack what Oranga Tamariki means especially as the demographics of readership in this Bay of Plenty publication are far removed and at the opposite end of the Bay of Poverty, where these families we deal with dwell.
Oranga (noun) continued wellbeing, survival, sustenance.
Tamariki - children - normally used only in the plural.
Again the war stories have highlighted why and how this is happening and the three independent inquiries will give us a lot clearer picture when they are released.
My opinion based on from what I have listened to from my own staff is yes, whānau should be involved in every step, but it would be naive to suggest all of the solutions will come once interventions by government agencies are removed.
The common thread in most of these cases is drug and alcohol abuse and until we can get our iwi leaders saying "not one more drop", "not one more tinnie of synnie" or "not one more pipe of P". The heat in these hot hāngī stones of blame will not cool down any time soon.
The almost juxtaposed irony in this fact is most of the misery being dealt to these disconnected whānau are by Māori members of organised crime.
As a benchmark perhaps the two movies Once Were Warriors and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted are good guidelines to follow.
The first was the shock and horror or the war story of society as seen through the lens of Jake "the Muss". The second story was much more about the solution.
Jake "the Muss" tries to restore his family to a functioning state after his anger, drinking, and violence (depicted in the first film) tore them apart and begins to realise the importance of family and regrets what his former actions have done to them.
Both, once were books and then became films, are a very emotionally demanding read - as hard to put down as they were to pick up again.
So, what does become of the broken-hearted we look after?
The ones we remember most are those who make it to a safe place where they can reconnect with their family and whānau.
These are the success stories that keep us going and stop us drowning in a sea of sadness and each one of them are feathers for others to follow.
Each feather is woven into a korowai of care that organisations such as ours wear into the daily battle of fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves.
Feather by feather, family by family, whānau by whānau, all of these challenges be they homelessness, hopelessness unhappiness or parentless are all about reconnecting the disconnected.
So to the uplifting of babies from their mums. In my opinion the solution is the same.
Reconnecting at-risk tamariki, back to their whānau where they belong, is the taonga in the jewel of justice we all should want sewn into the korowai of the long white cloud.
War stories are easy fodder for front page headlines and Oranga Tamariki have taken some huge hits.
But are they an inconvenient truth that will in time force Māori to look at their own leadership and the motivation behind making social workers, police, Family Court appointed lawyers and Crown agencies the whipping boys to point the bone of blame towards?
We need to celebrate the success stories of all the tamariki who are sleeping safe tonight because of early intervention - and follow that pathway.
How we do this is where the focus should now shift to.
Tommy Kapai Wilson is a local writer and best selling author. He first started working for the Bay of Plenty Times as a paperboy in 1966 and has been a columnist for 15 years. Tommy is currently the executive director of Te Tuinga Whānau, a social service agency committed to the needs of our community. email@example.com