Maori Party MP Marama Fox is threatening to pull support from the government over legislation that removes cultural priority when placing a Maori child in care. But her choice of words would lead you to believe she supported the change:
"Just because we want to provide a safe and loving home doesn't make it mutually exclusive to a Maori home," Fox said.What she actually wants is the status quo - whanau first.
Winston Peters disagrees. Unusually I am completely in accordance with him:
"I've known of too many children thrown from pillar to post between whanau members. I also know of hundreds of Maori who have been massively successful because they were lucky to have relations who would look after them.The government is currently recruiting people who can effectively adopt children under their Home For Life programme.
"But to apply a blanket whanau-first principle just does not in the circumstances make any sense," Peters said.
The most crucial thing for a child is that they have a 'parent' that puts their needs and well-being foremost. Whether they are kin or not must be a secondary consideration.
History has already resulted in a "stolen generation," said Fox.That ignores the current push to find permanent and stable homes for children.
"Children who were put into state care immediately went to the bottom of every disparaging statistic in this country. They immediately are more likely to offend, more likely to be in prison, more likely to fall out of education."
For too long there have been hundreds of couples wanting to adopt and thanks to CYF's antipathy for removing children from their whanau, very few children can take advantage.
Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says:
“The fundamental provision in this bill in the deliberate intention to remove Māori children from Māori whānau for good! It is an assimilationist policy!”Bunkum. It's long overdue policy to keep children safe. To give them the best chance of leading happy and fulfilling lives. If anything it's about ignoring (or at least de-proritising) race and culture and seeing the child as an individual foremost.
There has also been extensive consultation with children - and that's ongoing.
The [Expert Panel review of CYF] found children and young people said they crave nurturing and love, and feel the stigma of being in care. They feel powerless in the face of a system which is perceived to hold all the power and have no voice in important decisions being made about their future.
Anne Tolley can have the last word:
Minister Anne Tolley says that the goal of this bill, is to bring the focus squarely on the children.
“The bill makes changes to the purposes and the principles of the act, to imbed a truly child centric approach and ensure children's and young people's participation.”