Marama Davidson   Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Oranga Tamariki Legislation Bill   Thi
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Marama Davidson Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Oranga Tamariki Legislation Bill Thi

Speaker: Marama Davidson MARAMA DAVIDSON (Green): Thank you Mr Speaker. This is the third reading of the Oranga Tamariki
Children, Young Persons, and Families Amendment Legislation Bill. We are opposing this bill,
and my colleague Jan Logie has been outstanding in outlining our Green Party positions on
many of the aspects of the bill that concern us. My particular focus, from the very start, has been on this misnomer that the well-being of children can be separate from the well-being of families —any children, actually. But
the fact that over 60 percent of the tamariki in CYF’s (Child, Youth and Family) care
are Māori makes this incredibly important. As many of our colleagues have spoken about
today, we were out on the steps of Parliament, face to face, hūpē to hūpē, tangi to tangi,
with a lot of the people who have come through this system, abused and harmed, and that it
hasn’t just stopped with them, that their wairua has been affected, that their children
have been affected, that their grandchildren have been affected. And this was at the hands
of the State. So this issue of wanting to ensure that all
of our tamariki are taken care of is right in front of us—right in front of us today,
and every day. It would have been nice to see any member of the Government come out
and be face to face, hūpē to hūpē, with the men and the women who told their stories
of being abused at the hands of the State when they were children. I want to endorse
what my colleague, I think it was Carmel Sepuloni, was referring to. They were once those children,
they were once those children and their words as adults are as important to us today as
they should have been back then. Mr Speaker, the priority to ensure the “whānau
first” placement for tamariki Māori has been removed from this bill and it has not been
put back. It has not been put back, despite what the Minister says when she tries to talk
about that priority for “whānau first” placement being put back in there. It has not. The sort
of language that it has been replaced with are weak, watery words, like “should” and
“where practicable”. That is not strong enough, and because that is not strong enough, it
continues to uphold a damaging narrative—the very narrative that harmed those people out
on the steps of Parliament today—that said that No. 1 the State knows better where you should be placed as a Māori child, and No.2, we will not provide the support for your whānau to feel strong or even the foster families who took you on. The support was not provided. So the fact that the Minister stands up and
espouses “children first” priority is actually incredibly hard to take, sitting
here in the House. “Children first” priority, and she couldn’t even come to meet those
very children. She has refused to apologise to those very children. And this is relevant,
because she then sits here and says that this legislation is about tamariki first, and that
that requires removing them from whānau Māori, when what we want is to make sure that everybody
understands most whānau Māori are safe, and we can always find one. We just have to
support the process better. We have to support the process for all whāngai process and foster
parent processes to be stronger. There is always safe whānau Māori, and if we haven’t
found them, that’s on us. The intrinsic value of whakapapa to tamariki
Māori is essential to their well-being. So Mr Speaker, that has, from the very start, been my main contribution to my role as Māori Development Spokesperson as to the Green Party opposition of this legislation. It saddens me that we continue to pass this legislation
while knowing full well that our families need more support. We will continue to oppose
this legislation, and we will continue to work hard to provide the real support that
families actually need. Thank you Mr Speaker.

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