Just think, what if the 1986 Report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on a Māori perspective for the Department of Social Welfare had been actioned in its entirety. Known as Puoa-Te-Ata-Tu (Daybreak) it was commissioned by the Labour Government Minister of Social Welfare Ann Hercus.
John Rangihau chaired the seven-member advisory committee that included four respected Māori leaders, as well as the Secretary of Māori Affairs, Deputy Chairman of State Services Commission and Director-General of Social Welfare.
Obviously this was never going to be your usual report, particularly not with John Rangihau's involvement.
Te Rangihau was recognised as a tribal affairs and tikanga authority. The advisory committee was tasked with advising the Minister of Social Welfare "on the most appropriate means to achieve the goal of meeting the needs of Māori in policy, planning and service delivery in the Department of Social Welfare".
The report we now know, was like no other seen before.
It was brutally honest - written by those who knew things had to change to improve the lot of Māori as they headed towards 2000.
The report was shelved. All the recommendations ignored. Thirty-three wasted years later we are still in the same place.
We hear constantly Māori should be looking after their own. The report highlighted how this could be achieved.
But as always successive governments insist they know what's best for Māori. Look at what happened last month when the Ministry for Children (Oranga Tamariki) went to take a newborn baby in Hawke's Bay from its mother.
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They were confronted with fierce family resistance.
I suspect this will happen every time from now on when the ministry again attempts the same blunt act.
You can change the name of a government agency, Child Youth and Family Services to the Ministry for Children but without a change to the organisation's culture and service delivery, it will still remain the most despised government agency to Māori.
Two to three new born babies are taken each week from their mothers by the Ministry for Children. We know in the past that figure has been much higher. It's quite possible that in the 30 years from 1986–2016 between 3000-5000 Māori babies were taken into state care.
What happened to those children? We know that now. Histories of poor health, including a sharp rise in mental illness, abysmal education and employment records and clashes with the justice system.
And the saddest comment you will hear is their enforced disconnect from family.
Don't try and convince me it was for their own good. State care is safe care. A misnomer if ever there was one.
Right now there is a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care being undertaken in New Zealand.
The stories of physical, sexual and emotional abuse to New Zealand children living in institutions turns my stomach. For years the abuse was known to the Ministry of Social Welfare but they did nothing.
The children, now adults will tell you that. In the end they gave up trying to seek help, stopped speaking up and suffered in silence. Children continue to be taken. The majority are Māori.
Puao-te-ata-tu was written by Māori based on their cultural knowledge and understanding of Māori whanau, hapū and iwi structures.
It drew on the experiences of working with Māori families within their own networks and service providers.
The report highlighted the need for Māori to take control of their own lives. Te Rangihau knew that no government could ever design anything that would work well for Māori. They don't know how to.
They lack the required knowledge and necessary relationships with Māori. And if you ask me, the empathy to truly understand what is required.
What we saw playing out in Hawke's Bay shows little has changed. There have been 14 reports produced over the past 20 years highly critical of the services provided by the Ministry of Social Welfare.
Implementing the recommendations in Puao-te-ata-tu couldn't have done any worse. But government agencies, and not just the Ministry for Children, still believe they can fix Māori problems. They can't. Most of their practises are directly the opposite of Māori customary preferences.
Te Rangihau said in the report, "We are in no doubt that changes are essential and must be made urgently". He could have been talking about the Hawke's Bay case when he included in the report, "At the heart of the issue is a profound misunderstanding or ignorance of the place of the child in Māori society and its relationship with whānau, hapū and iwi structures".
Children must be safe in their homes. That is the number one priority.
And families, those that are struggling the most with poor health, inadequate housing, little or no income, addiction and anger and violence problems must be given the necessary support to change and clean up their act.
Support to do their best as parents. In the meantime, when the need arises, in every whānau, hapū and iwi someone will step up.
They will no longer allow their children to be taken. They know what's in store for them if they continue to let it happen. It is time to dust off the report. Every one of the recommendations is still applicable today.
Māori can be trusted to look after their own. They don't need a government agency with an appalling track record anywhere near them. E tū whānau. E tū.