Treaty claim lodged on move away from whānau, hapū, iwi placements for children in care

Mon 05 Dec 2016

The Māori Women's Welfare League (MWWL) has filed a claim in the Waitangi Tribunal challenging the policy changes proposed for the care and ...

The Māori Women's Welfare League (MWWL) has filed a claim in the Waitangi Tribunal challenging the policy changes proposed for the care and protection of children and young persons.

MMWL President Prue Kapua said, "Essentially the claim is brought on the basis that the policy changes to a safe, stable, loving home without the existing priority of placement within whanau, hapu and iwi is a breach of the rangatiratanga and partnership guarantees under the Treaty of Waitangi."

The full Statement of Claim is available online.

Last week the President wrote to the Minister of Social Development and the Minister for Māori Development asking that any proposed legislation reflecting the policy is deferred until Māori have had a chance to consider and discuss the changes.

These actions follow a Hui Whakatipu hosted by the MWWL in Wellington on 28 November 2016 to provide an opportunity for Māori to address the fundamental changes that are being proposed in the CYF restructure. 

MMWL is concerned at the move away from whānau, hapū and iwi placements for tamariki and rangatahi in need of care and protection.

National President Prue Kapua said "The changes that Cabinet has approved view every one of our tamariki or rangatahi in isolation from their whānau, hapū or iwi. Reference to children as part of a family has gone and instead we have provisions that in the Minister's own words will increase the ability for non-kin placements. ... Reform should be about improvement but this rejection of the role of whānau, hapū and iwi in our children's lives is a return to the assimilationist policies of the past."

MANA Party Leader Hone Harawira attended the hui and said "The current CYPF service continues to fail our kids, and the government’s proposed changes will make things even worse. The only way forward for our kids, is for Maori – for whanau, hapu, iwi, communities, organisations – to develop and lead the solutions ourselves. It’s a no-brainer."

Other speakers at the hui included Moana Jackson, Leonie Pihama and John Tamihere.

Since the hui, Green Party MP Jan Logie and Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta have raised the issue in Parliament.

The Green Party supported the call to delay the second Child, Youth and Family (CYF) reform Bill, with social development spokesperson Jan Logie saying "This Bill should not be introduced to the House until there has been robust engagement with Māori on the reforms and the Government can ensure that they do not breach their obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi."

Labour’s Whānau Ora spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta said "Widespread concern about Government reforms of Child Youth and Family Services reveal that not enough has been done to engage with Māori to develop solutions that improve long-term outcomes. … What works is an approach that builds on the early evaluation from models where iwi engage to improve the long-term care options for children who are vulnerable to further risk."

Legislation may be introduced before the end of 2016.

Background information

A wide range of Māori groups and individuals have criticised the government’s proposal to remove legislative principles prioritising placing Māori children in care with whānau, hapū and iwi. The proposal is part of planned reforms to child protection and care.

Māori have drawn attention to Puao-te-Ata-tu, a 1988 report from the Ministerial Advisory Committee which explored meeting the needs of Māori in the then Department of Social Welfare. The report raised issues of institutional racism which have resurfaced with the current reforms.

petition has been started.

Further information, discussion and media coverage is available in the previous NZFVC news story, Proposal to deprioritise placing Māori children in care with whānau, hapū, iwi criticised (September 2016). 


Racial justice meets the child welfare system: Why Hands Off Our Tamariki is a movement for change, The Spinoff, 05.11.2016

#Hands Off Our Tamariki: An Open Letter, Te Wharepora Hou, 09.10.16

Issues relating to Māori and child protection and care have also been discussed on the blogs Moa in the Room and Te Wharepora Hou and on YouTube and Facebook.


“We are the Stolen Generation” in New Zealand, Press Release: Te Ringahuia Hata, Scoop, 12.05.2017

State care abuse claim gains momentum, Waatea News, 12.05.2017

CYF reforms dangerous backward step, Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party, Scoop, 07.12.2016

CYF reforms "risk another Stolen Generation", Press release: Public Service Association, 07.12.2016

Minister questioned over new CYF law, Radio NZ, 02.12.2016

Tolley blind spot on systemic child abuse, Waatea News, 02.12.2016

CYF reforms ignoring whānau based solution, Press Release: New Zealand Labour Party, 01.12.2016

CYF restructure may 'breach Treaty', Radio NZ, 01.12.2016

Women's league challenges child law haste, Waatea News, 01.12.2016

Govt should delay introduction of second CYF Bill, Press Release: Green Party, 01.12.2016

Give Māori a go with vulnerable children, Te Karere TVNZ, 27.11.2016
(In Te reo Māori, English subtitles available under "Settings") 

By Maori, for Maori the only way forward for our kids, Press Release: Mana Party, 28.11.2016

Urgent Hui to Fight CYFS Reforms, Press Release: Maori Women's Welfare League, 25.11.2016

Whanau afflicted by CYFS fight back, Waatea News, 21.11.2016

Image: Tino rangatiratanga flag