The number of babies in Hawke's Bay taken by Oranga Tamariki has increased in the past six years - a statistic labelled as "horrific".
According to documents released to Hawke's Bay Today under the Official Information Act (OIA), 147 babies in Hawke's Bay, from unborn to 365 days old, entered into the care or custody of Oranga Tamariki, under a number of pathways, between July 1, 2012, to March 31, 2019.
Māori babies taken accounted for more than half of that number.
For the 2012-13 financial year (July 1 to June 30), 18 babies were taken, 14 of which were Māori. It increased to a total of 22, with 15 Māori in the 2013-14 financial year.
The number decreased to 15, with 12 Māori in 2014-15, and again to 14, with 11 Māori in 2015-16.
However, it increased to the highest number recorded in the seven years, with 28 babies taken, including 19 Māori in 2016-17.
This increased again, to a total of 35, with 26 Māori in 2017-18.
As of March 31, this year, a total of 15 babies had been taken by Oranga Tamariki, including 12 Māori.
Steve Groom, Oranga Tamariki's general manager, public, ministerial and executive services, said: "While our statutory duty and key concern must always be keeping children safe, the decision to recommend bringing a child into our care is one of the most difficult decisions our staff have to make.
"It is not a decision we take lightly, and there are, quite rightly, a strong set of checks and balances in the process."
All custody orders for unborn and newborn babies are made on an interim basis.
Permanent orders are only made after planning around the needs, risks and strengths of the parent(s), whānau and baby has been completed after the baby is born.
Hawke's Bay District Health Board member, and Hastings District Councillor, Jacoby Poulain said any uplift of any newborn is "one too many".
"Those numbers are horrific. What's more horrific is that I believe most of mainstream NZ simply assume these numbers are due to the shocking state of the families. This is often not true.
"What is hidden in the darkness is the government policies, practices and biases that are contributing to this mass assault upon families, young mothers and children in particular."
Ngāti Kahungunu chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said the figures are "appalling" and unless they came up with solutions that included input from wider whānau, hapū and iwi, "it will keep on happening".
After the May 7 drama, where Oranga Tamariki attempted to take a baby from his mother at Hawke's Bay Hospital, the iwi committed to "not one more child" being uplifted.
Tomoana says three changes needed to occur, including changing practices within Oranga Tamariki, as well as have a direct association with the courts, so that they can speak on the whānau's behalf.
"Thirdly, we need to have supportive whānau that can take these children so that if they are being uplifted because of safety fears then at least they are going to their own wider whānau, hapū or iwi."
Takitimu District Maori Council chairman and Flaxmere kaumatua Des Ratima says these figures just give a statistical face to the reality.
"It is certainly reinforced by the number of women, mothers and families seeking help in repatriating with their families."
Ratima says the fact that numbers are going up is more significant than the actual count.
"The trend upwards is disturbing. The model of care and protection for our tamariki is archaic and in need of replacement. No halfway interventions will be tolerated any longer."
Midwife Jean Te Huia, who helped support the mother in the May incident, labelled it a "humanitarian crisis".
"When Māori represent only 19 per cent of the population, but they represent 80 per cent of the children being uplifted and put into state care, then we have a humanitarian crisis on our hands. It's as simple as that.
"I believe is it is a breach of the women's human rights, it's a breach of the baby's rights and it is a breach of the indigenous rights for indigenous children."
She said the numbers are increasing because of the Subsequent Children's Act, and because of how "easy" it is for people to make a notification on the safety of a child.
Poulain says "alerts can be placed for almost anything and everything".
"The government has created mass information sharing powers between agencies, whereby an "alert" or "red flag" can be placed next to a child's (or mother of the child if unborn) medical record.
"It's one big ring of silence that can be used abusively by agencies."