'They're stealing our children from their beds' - Oranga Tamariki blasted after report into baby uplifts

Source: 1News

Whānau Ora is calling out Oranga Tamariki for it's "abuse of power and racial profiling" in a new report which details a baby uplift that involved "heavily armed cops and police dogs".

In a statement this morning, Whānau Ora said 14 armed police were used by the government agency to uplift a five-month-old Māori baby from a single mum.

"Police and Oranga Tamariki staff converged on the home of the single mum to execute an uplift order that had been green lighted by the Family Court without the whānau receiving any prior notification," the statement says.

The uplift was one of hundreds of cases uncovered as part of a six-month Māori-led nation-wide review of Oranga Tamariki, released today in a 200-page report.

Whānau Ora said the mum thought she was heading to a Family Group Conference (FCG) at Oranga Tamariki when she was instead "met at the door by heavily armed cops and police dogs".

The mum continues to be supported by her whānau, but Whānau Ora said she remains traumatised by the uplift ambush.

Dame Naida Glavish, who chaired the governance group overseeing the Māori review, said the report confirmed "systemic failure, discrimination and inexplicable breaches of human rights towards Māori".

"We can clearly see from the volume of evidence - and the heavy handed approach to this kotiro - that something is so systemically wrong. This entrenched behaviour is plain unjust," she said.

Dame Glavish also paid tribute to families who fronted up to tell their stories.

"We are deeply grateful to whānau who had the courage to stand up and speak their truth.

"It was also important that Māori led the review and we as Māori look to our whānau for solutions.

"This will not be a report that goes on the shelves with the hundreds of others. The findings back our call for a complete overhaul of Oranga Tamariki, the Family Court ex-parte order process and the law that facilitates uplifts."

Lady Tureiti Moxon, who is a lawyer and worked on the Waitangi Tribunal, the National Urban Maori Authority and with the Kohanga Reo Movement, told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning that "the government continues to fail us right across the board".

Lady Moxon said families were "being treated like terrorists", with many babies uplifted from their whānau without any knowledge of anything wrong.

"They come by sleuth in the night and they just uplift and basically this is theft. They're stealing our children from their beds. They're stealing our children from the breasts of their mothers. Tthey're stealing our children from their own whānau, from their hapū and from our iwi."

Earlier on Breakfast Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that while progress had been made with Oranga Tamariki, more work needs to be done.

"We know that there is more that we need to do to make sure that we're working, particularly alongside Māori, because that is where we see that disproportionate number of children that Oranga Tamariki are working with," she said.