A Hawke's Bay District Health Board member has called for an independent investigation after an attempt to remove a seven-day-old baby from a teenage mother last week.

Jacoby Poulain said she believes the hospital "failed" in its duty of care to look after the young mother.

"I struggle to see when it is ever necessary to yank a baby away...

"There should be a high degree of evidence to support that and I am struggling to understand what the DHB systems were to ensure that evidence is so high that it justifies the removal of that baby."


In 2018, 162 children and young people were uplifted from their homes in Hawke's Bay, an increase of 86 children since 2016.

Last year Oranga Tamariki received a total of 781 reports of neglect or abuse in Hawke's Bay alone.

Poulain said District Health Boards have a "greater role" to play in child welfare matters, than what was exhibited in this situation.

"It's not merely a matter between Oranga Tamariki and the whānau in terms of uplifts occurring at hospitals, but actually the health system is a crucial part of these matters."

It is understood the mother is now at a residence being supported by professionals.

An independent investigation is being called into the attempted uplifting of a baby from Hawke's Bay Hospital last week. Photo / Sarah Gully
An independent investigation is being called into the attempted uplifting of a baby from Hawke's Bay Hospital last week. Photo / Sarah Gully

Poulain said she has written to health board chairperson Kevin Atkinson requesting his support for an independent investigation into the incident.

Atkinson said the DHB was reviewing the event, however it was obligated to follow conditions and instructions specified in Court Orders.

"In this case the lead agency was Oranga Tamariki. The instruction to the district health board, from Oranga Tamariki included restricted access of whānau and midwife.

"The district health board spent some time trying to negotiate access for them, however a midwife was with mother and child at all times."

He said a whānau hui has since been held with Oranga Tamariki, police and district health board staff and a plan to support parents was agreed by all involved and was now in place.

At a meeting of state child-snatching victims near Raglan over the weekend Whanau First spokesperson and former Hastings local Lou Hutchinson spoke about the work the government was doing in the protection of children in New Zealand.

She says the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State and faith-based institutional care should be investigating modern-day complaints – "instead of closing the door at the end of 1999".

"Surely the ultimate aim of an inquiry like this is to stop the abuse happening," she said.

"There is plenty of evidence that abuse is still happening under the watch of Oranga Tamariki, the modern-day agency which is itself not showing any concern at all."

Hutchinson said that the issues it has created has had a devastating toll on families.

"There are some very damaged and traumatised children, parents and grandparents, all in despair because of the abuse being perpetrated by a modern Government agency and its very protected staff," Hutchinson said.

"The issues this has caused are unthinkable, and tragic."