Less than a dozen people turned up to a Whangarei protest against perceived flaws in the family justice system and demands for an overhaul of the Family Court.

The protest outside the Whangarei Law Courts on Monday was part of a series of similar demonstrations throughout the country organised by Families 4 Justice, a group lobbying for changes to the way children in the justice system are treated.

A couple of people took to loudhailers and demanded action on both sides of Bank St outside the courthouse. The protesters then marched to the Ministry of Children's office, formerly the Child, Youth and Family (CYF), on Walton St and repeated their call for change.

Group spokesman Steve Evans said the Family Court was "broken" and government needed to hear the protesters. He said it took up to three years for cases to get to the Family Court and said hearsay evidence was accepted by the court.


"Two-thirds of kids taken away by CYFs is illegal and they are returned after three years. We won't stop until the government hears us. We shouldn't have to fear the government.
The government should fear us," Mr Evans said.

Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue said Family Court judges took a solemn oath to do right to everyone under the laws of New Zealand, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.

"All District Court judges, including Family Court judges, receive regular ongoing education on family and sexual violence, and the approaches required to make sound decisions and we devote considerable resources to keeping up with latest knowledge."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Children said social workers did their best to minimise the stress on families when removing a child.

"If Oranga Tamariki assessment indicates harm or a risk of harm to a child, it is our responsibility to act. This doesn't automatically mean removing tamariki from their homes but it does mean we must act to ensure they are safe.''