“The High Court decision on the “Moana case” released today reflects the sort of changes that ACT is proposing to Oranga Tamariki,” says ACT’s Children’s spokesperson Karen Chhour.

“The child who is now six-years-old was traumatised and neglected when she was placed in a loving home. Oranga Tamariki later applied to remove her because the pakeha family couldn’t provide for her ‘cultural needs’.  

“Oranga Tamariki failed in its obligations by not putting her wellbeing and best interests ahead of all other matters. It also failed the caregivers who had done nothing but love and care for her.

“It should never have gone this far and Section 7AA was used to justify these decisions, that’s why I want to repeal it.

“As someone who grew up in state care, I have deep appreciation of what children need. Each child regardless of race, has their own individual circumstances and family background which means we should never take a blanket race-based approach. Every child should be seen as an individual and their wellbeing must come first.

"Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 places duties on the Chief Executive that are at odds with the agency’s primary purpose to support the wellbeing of our most vulnerable and at risk children. This will ensure they get a chance in life, and we can break the vicious cycle of trauma, harm and dependencies.

"While well intentioned, section 7AA creates a conflict between protecting the best interests of the child and race-based factors enshrined in 7AA. This conflict has the potential to cause real harm to our children.

“Oranga Tamariki’s governing principles and its Act should be colour-blind, utterly child-centric and open to whatever solution will ensure a child’s wellbeing. My Member's Bill would ensure this happens, placing more value on the best interests of the child rather than the Treaty.

“My Bill, which is due to be debated soon, The Oranga Tamariki (Repeal of Section 7AA) Amendment Bill, will ensure the wellbeing of the child comes before any other consideration. This will ensure the safety of our Tamariki and give our most vulnerable children the best chance in life and that we don’t see more cases like this one.”

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Karen Chhour