The resignation of Oranga Tamariki's chief executive Grainne Moss is "long overdue", says the midwife in the room of the infamous 2019 attempted uplift of a baby from its Māori mother at Hawke's Bay Hospital.
Moss announced she was stepping down as Secretary for Children and the chief executive of OT on Friday morning, following months of intense pressure calling for her resignation.
Jean Te Huia, a Hastings midwife with more than 30 years' experience, said Moss should have been removed two years ago when the story of a Māori baby being uplifted from its mother first broke.
Te Huia said she first raised issues about the uplift of Māori babies by the organisation in 2017 after witnessing it in Hastings, describing it as an "insidious act of stealing of indigenous children" that marginalised Māori families.
"Nobody wanted to listen," she said.
The lack of action led her to lodge a claim with the Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal in 2018, 12 months before the attempted uplift of a 6-day-old baby from her mother in Hastings.
"It's been a long, long journey for me."
The types of issues raised in her tribunal claim had already been highlighted in a 2015 report on state care written by the then-Children's Commissioner Russell Wills, she said.
"It fell on the shoulders of the new CE [Grainne Moss].
"Now we are in 2021, she has done nothing and to address disparities that Russell Wills identified in his 2015 report."
She said it was "demonstrous" that Moss had been able to carry on in her role.
"She should have been removed two years ago.
"She has done nothing to address the disparities."
Te Huia said Hoani Lambert, who resigned as deputy chief executive of OT last month, had also failed in the role he had been given.
She said there needed to be more accountability when it came to the appointment of senior staff of Crown entities and there needed to be a treaty framework, including a stronger Māori voice, in the appointments process.
"That has to change."
While a lot of work was still needed to address the issues, Te Huia was hopeful Moss' resignation signalled a move in the right direction.
"I believe things will get better."
Moss said it had been a privilege to lead the ministry for over four years through a time of what she described as significant transformation, challenge and change.
"I would like to acknowledge all those at Oranga Tamariki and our partner organisations who work tirelessly in some of the toughest environments."
She said she was proud of what had been achieved over the past four years, but felt the focus had been on her personally, rather than how to improve the well-being of children.
"I believe it is the right time for the agency for me to step down and make way for new leadership."
Sir Wira Gardiner has been appointed acting chief executive.