The recent expert panel responsible for reviewing CYFS has come under fire by Chair of the Whanau Ora Iwi Leaders Group, Sonny Tau. Mr Tau has written to Hon Anne Tolley, expressing the concern of Iwi Chairs about the lack of Māori representation in the expert panel set up to review CYFS.
“At our recent hui at Whangaehu Marae concerns were raised that it appeared Māori representation had been excluded from the Minister’s Expert Panel” said Mr Tau.
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley announced in April that an independent panel was to be established to lead a complete overhaul of Child, Youth and Family, in order to ensure that the agency was able to deliver meaningful and long term results for vulnerable children and their whānau.
New Zealand sees a disproportionately high number of rangatahi Māori being referred to youth justice facilities, care & protection residences, or into CYFS care.
The Ministry of Justice’s own Youth Crime Action Plan pointed out that this over-representation of Māori presents challenges to everyone working in the youth justice sector. This same report also suggested engaging Māori communities directly was key to successful outcomes.
Considering the inequitable way Māori are treated it would seem prudent to look into this and ensure that Māori communities were able to have direct input into the report.
“Māori have been saying for decades now, let us be the designer of our own solutions. It is somewhat confusing that a Government which has been bold enough to invest in Whānau Ora is unprepared to show that same test of faith in the care of our tamariki mokopuna”.
Mr Tau went on to say that Māori have continually expressed their desire to find effective solutions to problems within their communities.
“Given the demographic profile and commitment of Māori to be involved in reforming the child welfare system, we are extremely concerned at the actions of the Minister in keeping Māori expertise out of an area in which we have so much to offer”.
From the above statistics, we’d have to agree.