Hawke's Bay District Health Board member Jacoby Poulain is right to call for an investigation after an Oranga Tamariki attempt to remove a 7-day-old baby from its mother went wrong.

But who should be investigated?

A standoff occurred at Hawke's Bay Hospital involving the 19-year-old mother, her family, Oranga Tamariki and police after the mum refused to hand the baby over.

Is Oranga Tamariki the "bad guy" in this situation, snatching babies from the arms of young mums?


The reality is taking children into care is an unpleasant job that has to be done.

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

So last week, Oranga Tamariki were at the hospital on behalf of the child.

It is a big call to remove a child from the care of a mother who has carried it full term. You would have to imagine that all other alternatives have been exhausted.

And in a practical sense, it should be done sensitively.

Ngati Kahungungu reacted with a passionate "not one more" statement.

It is an admirable notion, and goal.

And to achieve it, the iwi's presence in the room, when these decisions are made, will need to be stronger.


Last week, the "lead agency" calling the shots regarding this particular baby was Oranga Tamariki.

Health board chairperson Kevin Atkinson has confirmed the DHB is reviewing the event, but says it is difficult when the DHB was obligated to follow conditions and instructions specified in court orders.

Which suggests that it might well be relevant that the DHB reviews its procedures, but Oranga Tamariki is the organisation that the spotlight should shine on brightest.

A meeting was held in Raglan over the weekend for families who have had children taken by the state.

It would be fair to say there was not a lot of love in the room for Oranga Tamariki - an organisation that has become a reactive agency dealing with a rising number of children born to adults with a generational absence of elementary parenting skills.

That's why we need an inquiry - not because of what happened in Hastings Hospital last week.