Oranga Tamariki and children being uplifted into state care have been revealed as the top issues concerning Māori.

The New Zealand Māori Council conducted a survey of 708 Māori people split across urban and provincial areas about what was "keeping them awake at night".

Of those respondents 27 per cent listed Oranga Tamariki and Māori children in the care of the state as the number one issue - up from 16 per cent in the 2018 survey.

This was followed by housing and affordability (23 per cent), suicide and mental health (20 per cent), policing (16 per cent) and the cost of living and employment (14 per cent).


The council's executive director Matthew Tukaki said he was not surprised baby uplifts and Oranga Tamariki topping the list, given vast media coverage following the filming of a newborn baby being taken from its Hastings mother, and subsequent inquiries.

But that exposure was like pulling a band-aid off an "already festering wound", Tukaki said.

"Those issues have been happening for a long time, and Māori have felt like they have lost their voice."

The majority of respondents said they were genuinely concerned about the system and the uplifting of babies and children.

There was also concern about reports on the issue being written but no action taken, and many called for a kaupapa Māori approach.

Tukaki said while children in state care came out on top, the concerns were all related.

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"The focus can be on the end situation with children in state care, but really we need to be talking about family poverty.


"Housing and housing affordability - the ability to put a roof over your child's head, and struggling with huge living costs - they all feed in to each other, create stresses in the family. It is not always addiction, but the daily struggles of life that can lead to those situations.

"Not just for Māori though, many are struggling. We need a wider conversation around suburban poverty, post codes that are entrenched in poverty."

Those economic factors also contributed to issues like suicide and mental health, Tukaki said.

"A lot of people struggling don't have something diagnosable, rather struggling with things like poverty, debt, loss of confidence for not being able to provide for their family or put food on the table."

An Oranga Tamariki spokeswoman said they recognised a significant proportion of Māori children and young people were in the system, and they were determined to improve their wellbeing.

This included working more closely with whānau, hapū, iwi and kaupapa Māori providers, and building on the four strategic partnerships already developed with iwi.

"It is the right thing to do and essential to see a genuine shift in outcomes from tamariki Māori."

The survey also highlighted concerns around policing, with many listing a lack of trust and the newly launched armed police patrols.

"They are sick and tired of police saying one thing about organisational and cultural change only to see them appearing to target mostly Māori communities," Tukaki said.

"It's now compounded by the black SUVs that appear to be targeting mostly areas with a high Māori population and then there are comments about the police presence at Ihumātao earlier on in the year."

The Herald revealed this month police had failed to meet five out of seven of their own targets to cut Māori reoffending since 2012 - including reoffending rates, raising scepticism about their latest strategy, Te Huringa o Te Tai.

The latest police use of force data also showed Māori disproportionately affected.

Superintendent Andrew Sissons, national manager for response and operations, previously told the Herald they were working with communities, partners, and the justice sector to try to change these factors.

Police were committed to reducing Māori reoffending rates 25 per cent by 2025, as part of its refreshed Te Huringa o Te Tai - Turning of the Tide strategy, Sissons said.

Top five things keeping Māori people awake at night in 2019:

1. Oranga Tamariki and Māori children in the care of the state (27 per cent)

2. Housing and housing affordability (23 per cent)

3. Suicide and mental Health (20 per cent)

4. Policing (16 per cent)

5. The cost of living and employment (14 per cent)