Hawke's Bay clearly has some family violence challenges.

"We're no worse than anywhere else, focus on the positive etc etc" I hear the cheerleaders say. And who cares about anywhere else, this is our problem.

We need cheerleaders. But we need the dreamers, the realists, the problem solvers, the workers and people who just give a s**t.

Today, local paediatrician and former Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills has revealed the magnitude of the challenge we have around our kids, and domestic violence.

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In one year, police - as they are required to do by legislation - made 7650 referrals to Oranga Tamariki in Hawke's Bay.

That's almost 21 a day, not quite one every hour of the year.

Each one is a child potentially at risk in a home where domestic violence was taking place.
We have also been examining the highly emotive subject of newborn babies being removed from their mothers, through Oranga Tamariki.

Ngati Kahangungu responded to this by saying "no more".

The iwi's timing is good.

As Wills has pointed out today, Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act comes into force on July 1.

He writes on the opposite page, "this creates an obligation on Oranga Tamariki to partner with iwi, delegate and devolve functions to iwi organisations, set targets and publicly report outcomes for tamariki Māori".

Iwi involvement can only be a good thing. Because the situation right now is a mess.

Babies being taken. Massive numbers of referrals to OT. And allegations that naughty kids are being taken to local gang pads as a scare tactic.

Wills has challenged our community to look inwards in terms of solutions, and stand up in the face of domestic violence, which by the way, is not just a Maori issue - there are plenty of Pakeha families out there hiding the shame of an abusive father or husband.

The good news is there is a will from iwi to become part of the solution, there are challenges from people with integrity like Wills to address men's violence and there is hope.

As Hawke's Bay Today has said recently in highlighting social housing issues which link strongly to our kids' physical and mental wellbeing, strong regions don't just thrive on economic success — they thrive on a sense of community, with empathy for others, strong leadership and action.

And we have that.