Northland MP Winston Peters delivered a broadside against the government in a speech in Tauranga on Saturday, but saved some of his ire for Maoridom.

Mr Peters said the government's response as New Zealand's social circumstances worsened as a result of the current economy was to privatise welfare and to sell state houses.

"Nowhere in the waffle pouring out of the Beehive has there been any reference to the core issues that are creating social breakdown and the reasons behind children ending up in state care," he said.

"It is not the fault of these children. These children have started out as victims."

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Firstly, it had to be acknowledged that a disproportionate number of children in state care were coming from the "Maori and Polynesian world, and unless we have a serious, introspective examination and admission of failed cultural behaviour then nothing that the state can do can help".

"Unless we in the Maori world accept that there is an unacceptable level of parental irresponsibility that only we can fix we will go on wasting taxpayers' money. Responsibility for children from chaotic relationships has been thrown on to state care, and the results have been described as appalling."

According to the Minister, 90 per cent of children in state care ended up on benefits, and the figures for education, crime and single-parent families were also "serious".

The fact was that CYF's figures were seriously distorted by fraudulent buck-passing within CYF itself, to the extent that no one really knew what was going on.

"What we do know is that simply privatising the status quo won't help," Mr Peters said.

"We have to look at family circumstances and start educating young men and women to take responsibility for their actions.

"Special work has to go into motivating the dropouts from education into qualifications and jobs. Community leadership has to be involved, and there must be strong efforts to tackle the epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse.

"Most importantly, we have to provide jobs and hope for a better life to encourage those trapped in this cycle of neglect and hopelessness caused by economic policies that work only for those towards the top of the heap.

"It is a massive problem that we all must work towards solving."