Debbie Ngarewa-Packer: 'Minister lacked courage' on Oranga Tamariki

Source: Q and A

The co-leader of Te Pāti Māori Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says Kelvin Davis’ response to the failings at Oranga Tamariki is less the promised “bowl through it with a bulldozer” and more like “he’s tickled it with a feather".

The most recent review of the troubled government department was released this week.

Ngarewa-Packer told Q+A with Jack Tame that “he’s really come out and said: ‘You will see uplifts done differently’. Kāore [no], what we need to know is that you will never uplift a child, a tangata whenua child like that ever again.”

She believes that “what they should have done is talked about when they will connect, when they will devolve to communities, and our community is one of them that has been waiting.”

The former kaiarataki of South Taranaki iwi Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui told reporter Maiki Sherman they have been set up and ready to go, waiting on Oranga Tamariki to cede control.

“We were the same iwi that called out those that were advertising our babies on TradeMe for caregivers, so we’ve been waiting for a long time.”

Ngarewa-Packer says it's not just about wresting control from Oranga Tamariki, it's about restoring what worked.

The Corrections Minister offered his condolences to the man’s family.

“Whangai worked, whangaitanga is part of our culture that really worked and actually no mokopuna is born of whakapapa that doesn’t connect. It’s actually about reconnecting with safe whānau.”

She says given the more than a dozen scathing reports into Oranga Tamariki she would have expected the latest response to be more bold.

As it stands the Government has just committed to working with Māori and communities. “Kei te pai tera, that’s actually part of what you are meant to do under Te Tiriti.”

“You should have had something radical that proposed transformational change such as a transitional agency or authority.”

“What we have is absolutely no bridge to be able to do that, and I think in order to, you know, uproot and get rid of the rot. You actually have to have a bridge that shows where you’re going to go.”