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Oranga Tamariki scrutiny overdone, says former advisory board chair

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Te Puna Wai in Rolleston is an Oranga Tamariki facility that has a capacity for up to 40 young people. Photo / NZME

The former chair of the ministerial advisory board overseeing Oranga Tamariki says rather than continuing to attack the child protection agency, people need to ask the hard questions about how New Zealand treats its children and young people.

The New Zealand Herald on Sunday reported high levels of absconding from community care homes, especially in Auckland.

Matthew Tukaki, who conducted a review of the residences while on the board, says they are not prisons, and they need to be part of a wider programme of setting the young people on a positive track.

Matthew Tukaki was reacting to reports of high levels of absconding from youth residences. Photo / File
Matthew Tukaki was reacting to reports of high levels of absconding from youth residences. Photo / File

Tukaki said those residences can’t be shut down without finding somewhere else for the kids to go – and that means fixing the society they come from.

“We throw these kids against walls. We beat them. We kill them. We murder these kids and it’s not all about Oranga Tamariki.

“If it was just about Oranga Tamariki, easy, we just come up with a whizz-bang solution but the reality is it takes every government agency, every government department, it takes business and industry, community, but importantly it takes family.”

Minister for Children Karen Chhour. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Minister for Children Karen Chhour. Photo / Mark Mitchell

He says changes such as dropping the section 7AA Treaty of Waitangi requirements or setting up boot camps is just a distraction from the real work.

Oranga Tamariki and its Minister, Karen Chhour, have come under attack from all quarters and despite being summonsed to appear before the Waitangi Tribunal, lawyers acting for the minister took that challenge to the High Court and won. The ruling is being appealed.



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