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Mike's Minute: The Waitangi Tribunal review into Oranga Tamariki is a waste of time

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Apr 2024, 9:34am

Mike's Minute: The Waitangi Tribunal review into Oranga Tamariki is a waste of time

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 16 Apr 2024, 9:34am

The Waitangi Tribunal are at it again. 

This time it's with another of their “urgent reviews”. This particular one is into the approach the new Government is taking to Oranga Tamariki. 

Karen Chhour, who is the Minister for Oranga Tamariki, would be as invested and experienced in the matter as any politician before her. 

She is a child of the state who rose to Cabinet level and, as such, is driven by the desire to contribute and give back and is a powerful reminder that the state is not all bad when it comes to dealing with kids and that you can in fact, have a tough start and not have it hold you back. 

In broad terms, Chhour is not as convinced as some others that race should play quite the obsessive role it does. 

In other words, if a child of Māori persuasion is removed from a home and is then placed in another Māori home that is directly connected to the home that caused the trouble in the first place, is that serving the child in the best way possible? 

This is not a new debate of course. The “wider whanau” approach and angst has been raging for years. 

What I think we all agree on is that Oranga Tamariki and its previous iterations have not served many kids all that well. 

I personally hold the view that in many circumstances we expect too much of the agency. After all, they are a Government department, not a miracle worker. 

The people they deal with have as challenging a set of circumstances as you would ever want to see. 

The social worker's caseloads are too high, the dysfunction is too high, and the expectation that these issues get fixed like a magic trick is too high. 

But the Waitangi Tribunal add nothing by yet again launching what appears to be an ever-growing level of activism and producing reports that, to be frank, will most likely, and rightly, be ignored. 

They have no real power. 

The original part of their existence, which was historic claims, is largely over and the stragglers should have been given a deadline decades back and the whole thing should be out of business. 

But bereft of fresh historic grievance to wallow over, they have created a new work programme of interventionism, of which the Oranga Tamariki case is the latest example. 

Taking a child out of a mess of a house and putting them on a path to success is the key goal. 

The moment you overlay that objective with race, race and more race at all costs is partially why so little has been achieved for these kids. 

Karen Chhour wants to get on with it. 

The Tribunal revel in being the handbrake. 

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