As a result of advocacy from the Māori Party, parents who raise children under the traditional practice of whāngai will be eligible for paid parental leave.
During the second reading of the Employments Standards Legislation Bill in Parliament yesterday, Māori Party Co-leader Marama Fox thanked the Workplace, Health and Safety Minister and the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee for picking up on the party’s push to recognise parents that whāngai children.
The practice of raising a child born of other parents is commonly known as ‘whāngai’, although other terms are also used. Kinship is the main principle in whangai and hapu or even iwi consent may be required in some situations.
“This is great news for the wonderful whānau who love and care for tamariki that they have made a life-time commitment to,” says Mrs Fox.
“It seemed like a glaring omission from the current legislation so we’re pleased to see our recommendation has been included in the current bill.”
At present, biological parents and those who have legally adopted children are eligible for paid parental leave - parents of whāngai children are not recognised.
“Raising healthy Māori children requires not just parents who are able and willing to nurture their children, but also a wider social and economic support system. Whāngai practices and the involvement of the wider whānau, are important means of meeting the needs of children raised in Māori households, and should be recognised as such”.
Other changes which the Māori Party strongly supports are the extension of paid parental leave from 16 weeks to 18 weeks, and the extra support that will be provided to parents of premature babies.
The Employment Legislation Bill also includes provision for protecting workers who are subject to zero-hour contracts.
The Māori Party has raised a number of concerns about the bill, including ensuring affected workers receive guaranteed hours; and that they are offered reasonable compensation in the event that proposed hours are cancelled at short notice.
“We want to ensure that all workers have security around the terms of their employment”, says Māori Party Co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell.
“This is particularly important for younger employees and those who are trying to support other people on flexible hours,” he says.
The Māori Party supported the second reading of the bill on the basis that the concerns it has raised around zero-hour contracts will be addressed before the bill returns to the House.
Mr Flavell says the party will continue to work with the Minister in good faith.