When Oranga Tamariki’s new operating brief is finally completed, much of the heavy lifting that forced changes to its antiquated and barbaric care and protection system of uplifting Māori babies from young mums and its non-engagement with Māori can be put squarely on the shoulders of this outstanding group of leaders.
Kahurangi Iritana Tāwhiwhirangi, Lady Tureiti Moxon, Kahurangi Areta Koopu, Tā Mason Durie, Kahurangi Tariana Turia, Kahurangi Naida Glavish, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait – the magnificent Māori seven.
Each of them has their own mana and needs no introduction.
However, collectively, they are a force to be major reckoned with, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern learned during the 2020 Oranga Tamariki debate, and Waitangi Tribunal Claim and ruling.
OT CEO Grainne Moss and her department were running roughshod over Māori, and that forced this team to come together and stand up to the state tyranny.
On behalf of the National Māori Urban Authority (NUMA) of which Lady Tureiti is the Chair, this group supported the Waitangi Claim against Oranga Tamariki practices towards Māori and Moss.
They wanted Moss gone and some OT powers devolved to Māori and community organisations that work with Māori whānau on a daily basis.
Initially, there was reluctance from the Prime Minister’s Office to acknowledge or even meet with the group. But through a political intermediary, Ardern agreed to meet over dinner with the Māori leadership team at Government House, Wellington.
“The last thing the PM wanted was Dame Naida and the other dames coming after her,” a source told the Herald.
The hui was arranged and the PM wanted to bring senior Māori MPs for support.
On the day of the dinner, Ardern and her then deputy Kelvin Davis made the short walk from the Beehive to Government House.
But the group would not meet with the PM unless she was on her own – leaders to leader.
They met with the PM behind closed doors, outlined their concerns and the rest is history.
Moss was moved to another Government Department and Oranga Tamariki would start to rewrite its charter – this time with Māori input and oversight.
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