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Malachi Subecz: Whānau Ora chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait claims Oranga Tamariki ‘complicit in murder’

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Whānau Ora chair Merepeka Raukawa-Tait has hit out at Oranga Tamariki over its handling of complaints related to murdered Malachi Subecz. Photo / Supplied

The chair of Whānau Ora commissioning agency and child safety advocate Merepeka Raukawa-Tait has hit out at Oranga Tamariki, claiming the organisation is “complicit in the murder” of five-year-old Malachi Subecz.

In an interview with Newstalk ZB’s Heather Du-Plessis Allan on Thursday evening, Raukawa-Tait responded to Oranga Tamariki being found to have failed to act on complaints about the child’s safety.

“At the end of the day, the first rule is bloody well own up,” Raukawa-Tait said.

“Don’t bother about saying we send our condolences and utmost sadness and sorrow and apologies to the families. They don’t want to hear that.

“They know that you have, by taking no action, been complicit in the murder of their mokopuna. That’s what they know.”

On Wednesday, chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier found that Oranga Tamariki had failed to adequately respond to two complaints, one of which included photographs of bruising, raising concerns for the child’s wellbeing.

“I can only describe Oranga Tamariki’s response as a litany of failures,” Boshier said in his investigation findings.

Raukawa-Tait referred to an interview given by Oranga Tamariki chief executive Chappie Te Kani on the same programme on Wednesday.

She said, in her opinion, she was “not surprised and not impressed” with how he responded to the Ombudsman’s findings.

Raukawa-Tait claimed the agency's inaction was "par for the course". Photo / Andrew Warner
Raukawa-Tait claimed the agency’s inaction was “par for the course”. Photo / Andrew Warner

“If [Te Kani’s] got any balls, and that’s what I will say, he should say look, from Monday the 31st of October until the 19th of December, I will man an 0800 number… I’ll have my chief social worker beside me and I want to hear from you New Zealanders to tell me what’s wrong.

“I sometimes believe that the CEO and the chief social worker is not actually hearing what they need to hear. And unless he’s getting it directly in his ear, then nothing much will change.

“I’m angry. I’m angry, Heather, because it again is another child’s death that did not have to happen.”

On the agency’s lack of action, Raukawa-Tait said the finding was not surprising.

“That’s par for the course with them, they tend to pick sides. Most times they don’t answer their damn phone.”

“They also believe that they’ve taken a course of action, and they don’t want to stray from that course of action. They are very reluctant to entertain any complaints or issues that whānau might raise.”

In a statement yesterday, Te Kani said the agency is further investigating where it went wrong.

“Earlier this year I made a commitment to do anything possible to find out if and how the system failed Malachi, and to own it. I stand by my word,” Te Kani said.

“I want to confirm that I, on behalf of Oranga Tamariki, accept all of the Ombudsman’s recommendations.

“Our priority now is to work with the whānau to offer apologies in a way that suits them.

“I appreciate that this will not fill the hole in the hearts of those who loved Malachi.”

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