A Māori inquiry into the uplift of babies by Oranga Tamariki is being driven by a "powerhouse" of Māori leaders.
Dame Tariana Turia, Whānau Ora champion Emeritus Professor Sir Mason Durie and Waitangi Tribunal founding director Sir Wira Gardener are among the group calling for the inquiry.
Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency chairwoman, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, announced the inquiry today, to address the removal of Māori children from their families.
"A Māori child is six times more likely to be uplifted than a non-Māori child," Raukawa-Tait said.
"So as Māori, we are saying with definite deliberation that we need an approach that is for Māori, by Māori with Māori.
"There are systemic failures that are seeing tamariki taken from their whānau, from their whakapapa connections, from their whole sense of who they are.
"Their identity is left in tatters, this is the creation of a lost generation."
The inquiry is one of several actions being taken by different groups following the attempted uplift of a baby from his teenage mother at Hawke's Bay Hospital in early May.
"Catastrophic figures around the number of Māori children caught up in this increasingly failing system has fuelled the tide of unrest among Māori."
In 2017, at least 45 babies were taken the day they were born, and more than half of the newborns were removed from young Māori mothers, Raukawa-Tait said.
On average three Māori babies per week are uplifted by Oranga Tamariki.
"Māori organisations say Oranga Tamariki prioritises the removal of children from the whānau unit without sufficient investigation, and also fails to form any meaningful partnership with whānau, hapū or iwi."
The hui will launch the Māori-led inquiry into the way Oranga Tamariki operates against its statutory obligations to Māori, Raukawa-Tait said.
"Oranga Tamariki manages our most vulnerable and has failed 14 reviews in 22 years - and still not one iwi group has been statutorily accepted to look after our own tamariki.
Oranga Tamariki reported 7500 children in their care and protection last year. In six months 220 of these children went on to be abused while in that care – 70 per cent were Māori.
"When this agency fails, it gets another budget boost. Budget 2019 provided them with an additional $1 billion."
Newsroom reported today that high court action is planned to challenge the "without notice" of potentially hundreds of uplifts.
The lawyer for the 19-year-old Hawke's Bay mother told Newsroom the challenge related to the process and nature of the intervention by Oranga Tamariki.
The Herald understands Te Mata Law lawyer David Stone has filed an urgent hearing to the Waitangi Tribunal on the uplifts.
And the Minister for Children Tracey Martin earlier announced an investigation by Oranga Tamariki into the process around the attempted uplift in Hastings.
A hui next month to begin the Māori inquiry is being organised by the North Island's Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency, responsible for initiatives that drive Māori health and wellbeing.
Te Kohanga Reo founder Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi, esteemed educator Sir Toby Curtis, Iwi leader Dame Naida Glavish, and urban Māori advocate Dame June Mariu also support the inquiry.
The hui will take place on July 13 at Ngā Whare Waatea Marae, Māngere, Auckland.
Driven by a powerhouse of Māori leadership the call comes from the likes of Dame Tariana Turia, who recently called for the resignation of the Oranga Tamariki CEO.
The North Island's Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency will host and provide the necessary support for this inquiry.
"Whānau are the core of a healthy and thriving society; we must stand together and strive for our vision of success.
"That is Māori leading their solutions for their own people. It's about building upon
the dreams and aspiration that families have. It's about collectivism, working together to activate solutions.
"Most of all, it's about caring and protecting the next generation – our tamariki, who carry
the future on their shoulders."