Children's Minister Tracey Martin has stepped into a dispute over child protection officials trying to remove a newborn from its mother.

Martin will travel to Hastings tomorrow to meet with local iwi Ngāti Kahungunu and the Māori Council about recent actions by her ministry, Oranga Tamariki.

The ministry has been under fire since it tried to take a 6-day-old baby boy from his 19-year-old mother at Hawke's Bay Hospital on May 6 because it said the child's wider family had a background of domestic violence and drug use - a claim disputed by the whānau.

Supporters tried to stop the baby being taken, police were called to the hospital and the ministry backed off, but the case is still going through a Family Court process.


Ngāti Kahungunu chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana vowed to stop the ministry taking any more children from the iwi.

"Not one more child will be uplifted and iwi will intervene at all costs," he said.

An activist group called Hands Off Our Tamariki has collected more than 12,500 signatures on a petition asking the Government to "stop stealing Māori children".

The group says the number of Māori babies taken by the state has jumped from 110 in 2015 to 172 last year.

Oranga Tamariki said Māori babies taken into state care within 3 months of birth increased from 129 in the year to June 2016 to 160 in each of the two years to last June.

Babies of all other ethnicities taken into state care increased only slightly in the same period, from 118 to 121.

The May 6 attempt was filmed by Newsroom.

Oranga Tamariki deputy chief executive Alison McDonald said the organisation's sole priority and focus was to keep the child safe.


She said social workers had been working with the mother "intensively" for several months before the birth and even had her living in a teen parent home a month before.

The social worker assigned to the case also had "significant connections" to the family, having been dealing with them for several years.

The ministry's chief social worker Grant Bennett said the criteria for taking children into state care had not changed.

"Our benchmark for bringing children into care hasn't changed – often a spike in children coming into care can mean families or communities are facing significant challenges," he said.

Martin said she would meet Ngāti Kahungunu and the Māori Council at 1pm tomorrow at the iwi offices in Hastings.

"I have listened to the concerns being raised about recent events, and I know that many people have been deeply impacted," she said.

"I have made contact with Ngāti Kahungunu and the Māori Council and will travel to Hawke's Bay to meet them tomorrow. Kanohi ki te kanohi, we can consider a pathway that will do better not only for Māori children, but for all children.

"I will be joined by Minister Kelvin Davis and Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

"I know that all parties involved in this discussion come from exactly the same place – none of us want any more babies harmed or killed."