Speak up for tamariki before it’s too late

Submissions on the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill close midnight tomorrow [March 3] and the Māori Party is urging whānau to have their say on it.

The Māori Party opposed the Bill at first reading because it reduces the rights of whānau, hapū and iwi to participate in decisions over their tamariki.

"We need as many people as possible speaking up for our tamariki by getting submissions in. Saturday is too late. There are more than 5000 children in State care right now and more than 3000 of them are Māori. The rights of whānau, hapū and iwi in section five of the 1989 Act must remain," says Māori Party co-leader Marama Fox

"When a child's parent can't care for them, there's always someone in their whānau, hapū and iwi who can give them a safe home, a stable home and love," says Ms Fox.

"The Bill currently provides for whānau, hapū and iwi as this was something that we fought for in our negotiations but it doesn't go far enough in terms of priority placement of tamariki with whānau, hapū and iwi," says Māori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.

"We must protect the right of tamariki to belong, stay connected to their whakapapa, culture and have a strong sense of identity.

"We urge as many people as possible to do submissions opposing the removal of section five."

There are calls from around the motu, including from Dame Tariana Turia, Te Roopu o te Ora, the Iwi Leaders Group and Te Pūtahitanga to respond to concerns about the changes proposed in the Bill and the implications this legislation will have for whānau, hapū and iwi.

A submission template is available at www.maoriparty.org