Oranga Tamariki has acknowledged mistakes were made in the way it handled the baby uplift case from Hawke's Bay Hospital this year, and has promised changes will be made.
The announcement has come after a damning internal review into the case, where a young Māori mother was left clutching her newborn son while social workers tried to uplift him. Police were also involved in the stand-off.
The review found the ministry did not try hard enough to build good relationships with whānau members or to explore options to place the baby with wider family.
It found the decision to remove the child was based on the opinion of one Oranga Tamariki employee.
It also found systems in place to check decisions did not work as intended, and too much reliance was given to historic information about the family, as opposed to their situation at the time of the uplift.
Ngāti Kahungunu chairman Ngahiwi Tomoana said the review confirmed the Māori community had been wronged.
He said the recommendations to come out of the review were baby steps, but there needed to be redemption for families who had their children taken off them in the past.
He said going forward mothers and babies need to be looked after from the point of conception, and systems need to be Māori designed, not co-designed.
Oranga Tamariki chief executive Grainne Moss said she was saddened by the review's findings, and apologised to the family.
"I know we have hurt this whānau – and I am truly sorry
"While there were safety concerns for this baby, we didn't do a good job for this family and that is unacceptable."
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The review was led by chief social worker Grant Bennett, with oversight from the Office of the Children's Commissioner and a representative of Ngāti Kahungunu.
As well as the Oranga Tamariki review, reviews are being carried out by Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft, Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier, a Māori-led review by the Whānau Ora commissioning agency, and the Waitangi Tribunal has also announced an urgent hearing.
Changes from the review are:
• Unless there is a clear need for action to protect a child from immediate and imminent danger, all interim custody order applications will be made "on notice" to ensure the family is given the opportunity to have a say before a judge makes a final decision.
• When staff need to act faster to keep a child safe, every Section 78 "without notice" application will go through additional checks with a regional legal manager, a site manager and a practice leader all signing off.
• Additional investment will be made into staff training nationwide and greater supervision for family group conferences.
• Our practice leaders on every site will look at all reports of concern for unborn and newborn babies and check that we put the right planning and assessment around vulnerable mothers at the earliest opportunity.
• In Hastings, more resources and training will be provided to staff and a new regional supervisor appointed.
"It is clear from this review that we made mistakes, we need to own up to that and make sure we do everything we can to prevent them from happening again," Moss said.
A family reunited
The young Hastings mother who resisted attempts by Oranga Tamariki to uplift her newborn baby is to have her first baby returned to her as well.
Her daughter, who was uplifted from the mother a few days after being born 20 months ago, has been in the care of a couple who believed they would have her permanently, Newsroom reported.
The child is being transitioned back to the 19-year-old mother, who now lives independently in Hastings.
Earlier this year the mother came to the nation's attention after several attempts by Oranga Tamariki to uplift her second child, a boy, a week after he was born at Hawke's Bay Hospital's maternity unit, were foiled by her and other family members.
The attempt led to four inquiries into Oranga Tamariki and an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing in to the process.