“It is no wonder that Oranga Tamariki is being threatened with strikes and has contractors under investigation when Minister for Children Kelvin Davis has to resort to race-based name-calling when questioned about the issues,” says ACT’s Children spokesperson Karen Chhour.

“His department is in strife as staff are voting on strike action and significant contractors are being investigated for using funds for political campaigns. The real tragedy in all this is that the people who will end up suffering are vulnerable children and whanau who need Oranga Tamariki to be doing its job, not focussing on internal issues.

“Davis couldn’t point to any actions he has taken to mitigate any of this, he has no idea whether there will be a strike, and he said was pleased to witness an agreement with John Tamihere’s Te Whānau Waipareira Trust, who is under investigation for using charitable funds to bankroll Tamihere’s mayoral bid and election campaign.  

“Instead of showing some respect for the vulnerable New Zealanders his department is meant to be supporting and who are being failed by staffing and contracting woes, he condescendingly told me I need to cross over “from her pākehā world into the māori world and understand exactly why, how the māori world operates. It’s no good looking at the world from a vanilla lens.”

“Actually Minister, I am a Māori woman, I was a Māori child in state care, and I can tell you that Māori children aren't that different, they just need to be loved, fed, educated, and not abused by the people who claim to care for them.

“That is why my Member’s Bill recently drawn from the ballot will remove Section 7AA from the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, because it creates a conflict between protecting the best interests of the child and race-based factors enshrined in 7AA. Removing this means the wellbeing of children will come before any other consideration.

“Davis’ condescending attitude and lack of care for issues within his department does a disservice to those most at risk. Oranga Tamariki needs to be serving our most vulnerable children and giving them the best chance in life. Instead, it is bogged down in internal issues and poor leadership from the Minister.”

More from

Karen Chhour