Constitutional Transformation is the New Black

by Dayle Takitimu

A snapshot of this past week in politics has reinforced that we, the Indigenous of this land, must not lose sight of our Indigenous truths. We must guard them fiercely; we must denounce any slow creep of imperialism upon our understanding of ourselves. We must be loyal first to our own truths; and have the courage to reject the colonial legal fictions that have emerged from an inherently racist system designed to annihilate and oppress us. The events of this week emphasize, more than ever, that our vigilance is absolutely necessary if we are to genuinely realize our internationally recognized right to self-determination.

The Status Quo is Unacceptable
Only those with a vested interest in propping up continued colonial oppression of Indigenous rights seek to defend the status quo. They publish articles on how harmonious the commemorative events at Waitangi have been this year, they wax lyrical about the dollar value of meagre Crown investments into impoverished Māori communities, and they liken colonial benevolence to satisfying an ongoing obligation to peacefully assimilate Indigenous people into the acceptable ‘mainstream’. We’re being told, repeatedly, to be happy with our lot. The problem is, if your inherent right is to self-determination, these measures fall woefully short of our rights and entitlements – no matter how sweetly giftwrapped and embellished.

Pania Newton at Waitangi

The further we move from our truths, and the more we align ourselves with damaging colonial fictions, the more violence we allow colonialism to inflict upon the psyche of our people. Thus we see this week manifestations of this colonial drift creeping into our sacred spaces; we see armed police forces permitted onto the marae atea, we see unprovoked attacks on the mana and tapu of Māori women by Māori alpha males aligned with the Crown, we see speaking platforms provided to the promoters of hate, we see people with calculators under the table horse trading the integrity of our natural environment. The insidious reach of colonial legislation has become so incrementally intrusive that it permits the law to shoot our people in the streets. It purports to unilaterally determine which parts of our history are taught, and it empowers itself to snatch Indigenous children from the wombs of our mothers. That some of the Crown officials sought this year to discuss that in our Indigenous language is a merely a distraction from the fact none are committed to the actual substantive issues that would force a genuine recognition of our rights and entitlements – none are committed to acknowledging and deconstructing the colonial fictions upon which their tenuous positions are founded.

“The insidious reach of colonial legislation has become so incrementally intrusive that it permits the law to shoot our people in the streets.”


We Are Not ‘Fighting For Our Rights’; We Already Have Them
Notwithstanding the ongoing incursion of colonisation, Indigenous people have an existing and operable right to self-determination. That self-determination extends to include our right to self-government, and a suite of territorial rights in relation to our natural environment. The ongoing subordination of Indigenous law by the State, and the legal barriers compromising the ability of Indigenous populations to proactively protect our territories and our populations, is inconsistent with Te Tiriti and international law. Despite the clear language and brevity of the Treaty of Waitangi, the Crown purports it is confusing and requires further interpretation. That interpretation is found within Crown-defined ‘principles’ that unilaterally, but significantly, erode the otherwise clear agreement between Māori as a sovereign people, and the British Crown.

Treaty Principles Are Legal Fictions that Dispossess Us of Our Tiriti Protected Rights
Through a Crown lens Article I rights about sovereign authority move from being about self-determination and ‘absolute chieftainship and authority’ to being about ‘partnership’ subject to Parliamentary supremacy. Not an equal partnership, but one that cedes all interests from one nation to another.

Territorial rights contained in Article II move from being about ‘full, exclusive and undisturbed possession’ to being about ‘the right to be consulted’.

Social and cultural rights in Article III are reduced to ‘the right to participate’ and ‘be a New Zealand citizen’ and be subject to ‘one law for all’ and, at the Crowns discretion, to be acknowledged as a particular class of ‘stakeholder’.

The New Zealand government claims, but has no constitutional basis for, ‘parliamentary supremacy’ and asserts the only right to govern and make laws in Aotearoa/New Zealand. This is in direct breach of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the distinct obligations owed under the Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Inconvenient for the Crown? Yes. Factual? Also yes.

To be clear, this is nothing but pure racism and colonial patch protection, dressed up as law and policy. Legal fiction, created to serve, and maintain, an empire building agenda. This is racism in its most institutionalised form and remains totally unacceptable. The Crown cannot simply ignore the set of rights and entitlements protected by Te Tiriti, and reaffirmed by international law; and we must not allow them to do so. We don’t negotiate rights, they are inherent and already exist – we are challenged with implementing them, honourably, and bringing the treaty promise to fruition. Of course this is challenging, but it is equally necessary if we are remotely interested in justice.


Constitutional Change Is The New Black
Piecemeal accommodation of selected aspects of our culture within a colonial frame is not the genuine realization of our rights needed to shift the status quo. We ought to reject these accommodations for the distraction they are. The reclamation of our legitimate right to self-determination is anchored in our continued adherence to our Indigenous truths. The pathway must therefore be one of Indigenous reclamation and emancipation, for it is an Indigenous lens that will provide the pathway ahead, not a colonial one.

The constitutional arrangements of this country, contained in Te Tiriti o Waitangi, require of us a balanced power sharing; one that accommodates not only a peaceful co-existence, but also the concurrent presence of genuine and undisturbed Indigenous self-government. Our Indigenous right to self-determination was not displaced by Te Tiriti o Waitangi; it was affirmed and protected by it. That sovereignty was never ceded on the 6 February 1840 is an established fact; reconfirmed repeatedly by Indigenous tradition, the international legal community and by the New Zealand government’s own Waitangi Tribunal. That is the crux of it. Each party to Te Tiriti o Waitangi is challenged with honourably implementing it.

“That sovereignty was never ceded on the 6 February 1840 is an established fact; reconfirmed repeatedly by Indigenous tradition, the international legal community and by the New Zealand government’s own Waitangi Tribunal.”

The Crown, and the non-Māori population of this country have their own burden to wrestle with; morally and politically – they must bear the weight of change also. They must have the courage to confront the uncomfortable, and do the yards to critically, but urgently, dismantle systems of oppression from which they continue to benefit. They must not mistake window dressing as substantive change, but must instead accept the challenge to unpack the colonial fictions upon which their privilege is based.


Māoridom has its own healing to do; we must rebuild from colonial interruption so that we are positioned to manifest our right to self-determination. We must retake our legitimate sovereign place within the global family of nation, where our unique worldview and ancestral knowledge is required to face the global issues that will shape the future – the climate crisis and the collapse of the current economic order. We have to propel the constitutional change within Aotearoa/New Zealand that is necessary in order for our rangatiratanga to be restored. To do so we must, at a very minimum, have the continued courage to reclaim and champion our Indigenous truths as the foundation for the pathway ahead.


Indigenous land rights movements at Mauna Kea, Hawai’i and Ihumātao, Aotearoa, have hosted each other today in an exchange of solidarity and support for Indigenous rights.
Dr. Emalani Case, neice of Mauna Kea leader Pua Case, arrived at Ihumātao this morning bearing support from the Hawaiian campaign for the ongoing occupation movement in South Auckland.

“Mauna Kea and Ihumātao are not isolated moments” says Dr. Case. “They are movements that speak to each other across oceans. Although we may be in different places, we are linked in our shared commitment to protecting our lands, our peoples, and our futures. From Mauna Kea, we recognize the struggle at Ihumātao because we know it, we’ve felt it. We’ve lived it and we are still living it. From Mauna Kea, we’ve also felt the Māori recognition of our struggle. We’ve felt the prayers, we’ve been inspired by the actions, and we’ve been empowered by the solidarity.
As peoples linked by history, genealogy, and a shared commitment to our lands and waters, we stand with you, and we stand by you, to help you shoulder the weight of this movement. We know that our stand for one mountain is really a stand for all of our mountains, for all of our rivers and landscapes, for all of our sacred places, and for our rights as indigenous peoples.”
At the same time, a delegation of Māori scholars and rights advocates led by Dr. Leonie Pihama were welcomed onto Pu’uhonua o Pu’uhuluhulu at Mauna Kea bearing messages of support from multiple Māori rights campaigns including the S.O.U.L. Ihumātao movement, “Hands Off Our Tamariki” who are opposing state removal of Māori children from Māori whānau, Protect Aotea who are campaigning against government sanctioned marine dumping of toxic sludge, and the Kia Mau movement which opposed the government sponsored anniversary celebrations of the arrival of James Cook to Aotearoa New Zealand.
Dr Pihama says: “We are here to stand in solidarity with our Hawaiian relations who are taking a position of self determination in protection of this sacred Mauna Kea. As Māori we have deep ancestral connections to Hawaii and to the Mauna. We carry the movements of Ihumatao and Hands Off Our Tamariki to support the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Indigenous nations have been protectors of our sacred lands and life ways for generations and continue to do so as our ancestors have done before us.”
Earlier this week the various movements issued a joint declaration of a “state of crisis” within the Māori nation under the current government who has failed to meet the high expectations set by the Ardern government and it’s Māori caucus, in spite of holding the highest number of Māori seats of any government to date.
Kia Mau movement spokesperson Tina Ngata says that while investment patterns may have shifted in this government, problems for Maori will persist until the government undergoes a fundamental systemic shift in decisionmaking.

“What we are seeing here is a range of flashpoints around the nation and around the world that indicate a consistent failure of settler colonial governments to meet the basic needs of Indigenous peoples, and we are then forced to take action in order to protect what remains, whether that be in relation to our lands, our waters, or our families. The government needs to face up to its role in colonization and the very first demonstration of that would be the Prime Minister coming to Ihumātao, standing the police forces down, meeting with Hands Off Our Tamariki, or even watching the twelve minute clip that has deeply impacted our country. Her refusal to do any of these things indicates a continuation of settler colonial patterns of ignoring Indigenous voices and whilst still determining our futures. We will continue to voice our opposition and solidarity with other nations who experience the same challenges under settler colonial occupation of their sacred spaces.”


By Tina Ngata

New Zealand’s Indigenous rights record is being called to account from numerous campaigns following weeks of flashpoints around the nation. Campaign leaders are citing a lack of government leadership and protection around Māori land alienation, state removal of children, and water pollution as indications that the Māori nation are “under threat from the deeply entrenched colonial racism of the New Zealand government”.

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Image from Twisted Treaty Portraits

At Auckland’s Ihumātao, local Māori descendants and their supporters continue their occupation of lands in opposition to government eviction for a proposed housing development. Tensions have increased as police escalated their activity on the site in spite of a consistently peaceful approach by the movement. Local leader Pania Newton says these new developments have eroded the trust and good faith in the process. A national day of action for Ihumātao has seen protests and community expressions of solidarity across the country.

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Large numbers showed up in acts of solidarity with Ihumātao around the country

Kelly Klink from Aotea (Great Barrier Island) has highlighted that the government’s lack of leadership is not only impacting upon human and land rights, but also water rights. Earlier this year, despite widespread opposition from local Māori, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), granted a large corporation consent to dump 250,000 cubic meters of toxic marine sludge off the coast of Aotea, a move that has resulted in largescale protests in the Auckland CBD.

“This is an abuse of our fundamental rights including the right of free prior and informed consent when big corporations dump toxic waste in our moana – it will cause irreparable harm to our beautiful marine environment which our people have relied upon for countless generations” says Klink.

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Marine dumping led to marches in the Auckland CBD for Māori rights over marine territories

The Ihumātao and Aotea uprisings accompany further nationwide protests last week regarding the excessive state removal of Māori children from homes and abuse while in state care. ‘Hands Off Our Tamariki’ Campaign organisers Leonie Pihama, Paora Crawford-Moyle & Rihi Te Nana have highlighted the United Nations definition of genocide, which includes the forceable transfer of children from one group to another, and described this ongoing issue as New Zealand’s “Stolen Generation”.

Dr Pihama notes:
“We were told in 2016 that a change in legislation would make Child Youth and Family (CYFs) more accountable to Māori for their absolute incompetency in supporting our people, yet there continues to be a denial by the government of the need for significant change to be made.”

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Hundreds gathered in the rain on the steps of Parliament to hand over a petition of 17,000 signatures calling for a halt to “child theft” by the NZ government.

Last week’s nationwide protests were spearheaded by a rally in Wellington which included a large march to Parliament steps to deliver an Open Letter with over 17,000 signatures to the Government calling for an end to the forced removal of Māori children. It also highlights that Māori are continually stifled by government legislation, limited resourcing and structural racism. The connections across these campaigns is recognised by Dr Pihama.
“What we see is a government that has said it is committed to the Treaty but fails to make any meaningful engagement with critical issues such as Ihumātao, Aotea, or the destruction of our children’s lives by its own Ministry. There is too much denial and defensiveness over the past months by this government, as was the case with the previous National government. There continues to be a denial of fundamental Treaty rights to do with our whanau, our lands, our seas, everything. Hands Off Our Tamariki voices our solidarity with all Māori and Indigenous Nations that are standing in protection of sacred places, sacred spaces, sacred future generations.”
Tina Ngata, spokesperson for the Kia Mau campaign opposing the 2019 anniversary celebrations of Captain Cook’s arrival notes that these are clear examples of why the events are an inappropriate and insensitive investment by this government: “We were promised a kind and progressive government under Jacinda Ardern, but these multiple flashpoints amount to a nation in crisis. The deeply entrenched colonial racism of the New Zealand government presents an ongoing threat to our lands, waters, and to us as a people. It’s appalling and insulting that the government would pump tens of millions of dollars into celebrating our “dual heritage” whilst continuing the Imperial project of Indigenous dispossession and genocide. This all demonstrates clearly how far away this government is from truly appreciating the depth of the issues we need to address before we can even claim basic respect for our human, environmental and Indigenous rights, let alone any semblance of bicultural harmony or political kindness.”

The “Taken Generation” is not a Māori Problem – it is a Colonial Racism Problem.


By Tina Ngata

If you venture into the websites for Ministry for Women, Ministry for Children and Ministry of Health, the images and language around your maternal healthcare journey, parental and child support paint a very particular, and positive picture.

Smiling brown faces, generally uptilted, the sun on their face – full of hope and aspirations, looking up towards a bright future. Declarations of support for loving, nurturing environments and belief in young people living up to their full potential. The use of our potent moko kauwae as the logo for the Ministry for Women infers the acknowledgement of the sacred role of wāhine in the family and community.

What has been made very clear in Newsroom article that has, this past week, rocked our nation, is that the reality for young Māori mothers is very, very different. Like rats circling a birdnest, Ministry for Children agents come back, again and again, trying to wear down the mother and her family, trying to isolate and cajole, then threaten, intimidate and decieve. It’s a relentless assault upon the young māmā, her family, and her child, a jarring testament to what young Māori mothers are put through within the health system.

This is not a new problem, but what Melanie Reid’s documentary did was put a face to the problem that Māori and Pacific whānau know, already, is out there. We live the reality of these intimidating tactics every day. Our health system has been identified as racist towards Māori from within its own ranks, and by the international Commission for the Elimination of Racism and Discrimination in Geneva. We have known for a long time that Māori children are many times more likely to be taken from their families than Non-Māori. We have known for a long time (and unequivocally so since Mihingārangi Forbes’ Ngā Mōrehu report) of the statecare-to-prison-pipeline. What Melanie Reid did was burst through the systemic walls that protected this practice – put up by the police, hospital staff and the DHB, to expose the human face of this particular dimension of New Zealand’s colonial legacy upon Māori and Pacific whānau.

What is also clear, in the documentary and in the languaging used by the state is that overarchingly these babies are being considered and assessed as individuals, not the child of a mother, a whānau, or a community that is irrevocably damaged by their removal. Certainly not the victims of a racist system that was incepted to disadvantage Non-Pākeha. They are all of these things. They are a mokopuna, and I would go into all of the beautiful, profound meanings of that word except I’m jaded from reading that hollow rhetoric on these state agency websites which have no idea of how to implement that understanding, let alone intention to implement it.

All we need to know right now is that this is not an isolated case in any sense of the word.

Not only do the figures support that excessive uplifts for Māori and Pacific Island whānau are happening nationwide, but we also have evidence to support that the very flawed, deceitful, intimidating process captured by Newshub is also employed as a matter of routine, around the country.

The E Hine – reducing barriers to care for pregnant Māori women under 20 years and their infants study has walked with young Māori mothers aged under 20 thorugh their journey into motherhood in both Hawkes Bay and Wellington, centering them in a story that seeks to understand their lived experience of a health system that is clearly failing both them, their whānau, and certainly their babies. This study included a maternal care system stocktake, interviews with state agencies and service providers, whānau, fathers, and of course the mothers themselves.

Having walked alongside and advocated for a number of young Māori mothers over the years, I can say that the Newsroom video did not in the slightest part shock or surprise me. This is very much what is happening across the country, every day, in hospitals right across Aotearoa. Many who are unfamiliar with the system may assume that you must have demonstrated harm to a child in order to come to the attention of these services. The only thing you need to do is be considered “high risk” and let’s clarify that criteria: the statistical storytelling of our colonial government means that when a Māori mother is xx% more likely to suffer violence, to not engage in healthcare, or to have a difficult birth, this is not treated as an indication of a flawed system, it is treated as an indication of a flawed mother. In that sense, Minister Morgan and her staff who consistently point the finger of blame elsewhere are very much the voice of the system.

Consequently, belonging to the statistical “at risk” category (by virtue of being young and Māori) and walking into a hospital triggers a systemically racist treadmill of hyper-vigilant surveillance, unrealistic expectations, and increased risk of state assault. If you have the additional criteria of belonging to a Māori mother who was caught up in this treadmill when you were born, this increases the likelihood of state assault significantly. For many other parents it may never occur that going to hospital to give birth or taking their child to hospital for an illness will result in having them removed permanently taken, but this is a real consideration for young Māori and Pacific Island parents. The young wāhine on E Hine were also therefore not unique in facing this threat.

Here are some of their experiences:

“Cause CYF got involved with my first son so we’ve had all that stuff and we’ve had to be like monitored… You never know what’s going on because they never tell you anything… I don’t like it. (Ngaio, interview 3)”

“They turned up on my doorstep… apparently we were beating up the kids… ‘Do you see anything on my kids? Do they look hurt? No, they look happy.’ And I wouldn’t let them in my house, because my house was a big mess, and ‘cause they would have claimed that as neglect… So I just talked to them at the door. And they just wanted me to strip my kids down so they could see them and see if there’s any bruises. (Mere, interview 6)”

“[CYF were] trying to trick me with questions like, ‘So you would leave your daughter with your mum if you go out drinking and that and do drugs and that?… And then they tried to ask me that again and I told them again, ‘I don’t do it!’ They just wouldn’t listen to me. Trying to be real assholes… It was just ticking me off. (Marama, interview 1)”

 “Mum had spoken to them not to speak to me by myself, a few times… but they kept coming in and asking me questions, and I had already said to them, ‘I’m not in the state of mind to answer questions,’ and they’d just come back in, keep on coming in 78 and out… I was not in the state of mind to be answering questions from them, I was worrying about my son, not them. (Tia, interview 2)”[1]

This last quote is from a young mother who came under Ministry for Children surveillance while in hospital with her baby son who had nearly died of SIDS. While he was recovering, the Ministry agents and hospital social workers closed in on her in a manner she found intrusive, intimidating and judgmental, and the pressure remained that way over her for months afterwards.

Over the years I have seen this betrayal of trust – young mothers who go into hospital and are then subjected to questionnaires asking a raft of hypothetical, convoluted questions, or intrusive questioning about their homelife that lack clarity and context. In some cases the young mothers innocently believe the social worker is there to help them, and answer the questions openly, not knowing that the information is being interpreted and used to justify putting them under scrutiny.

So no, what Melanie Reids reported on was not an isolated case. Nor will it be fixed by the replacement of any one person. Should accountability be held by Grainne Moss and Tracy Martin? Absolutely. But just at this treatment is not isolated to Newshub’s report, accountability is not isolated to those specific workers who facilitated that invasion, or even the leaders of that agency. This is a systemic issue that is fed into through the realms of education, of health, of justice and corrections, of economy, of culture and heritage. This is a colonial, racist system doing what it was set up to do from its very inception: dispossess Indigenous peoples in every way. Make no mistake: the system is NOT broken. It is operating exactly as it is intended.

As Dr. Rawiri Karena points out – the taking of Indigenous children is a purposeful technique of the colonial commonwealth machine that was developed in England for application around the world:

For a clear understanding of how effective this has been we need only look to other settler colonial nations and their records of Indigenous children, youth and adults in state custody:

Country Indigenous % of population % of children in state custody who are Indigenous % of incarcerated youth population who are Indigenous % of incarcerated adult population who are Indigenous
Aotearoa 14.9% 59% 70% 50.7%
Australia 3.3% 36.9% 51% 27%
Canada 4.9% 52.2% 46% 26%
USA – Alaska 14.8% 50.9% 38% 33.2%
USA – Sth Dakota 9.43% 52.5% 53% 29%
USA – Hawai’i 10% 48% 50.5% 39%

Now if you look at these locations, all of the Indigenous groups associated to them are radically different from each other, and there are even radical internal Indigenous differences for countries like Australia and Canada. We do not have some cultural similarity in common that predisposes us to crime, but what we do have in common is an experience of colonisation.

As Moana Jackson states:

“Māori and other Indigenous peoples aren’t born genetically poor nor collectively dysfunctional. Instead, it has been the dispossession through colonisation that has created the deprivation and that has destroyed the cohesion of once strong family units. No Māori prisoner can be isolated from the collective costs of that traumatic dispossession”.

Indeed, in reflection of the above statistics, it is quite clear that no Indigenous prisoner can be isolated from the cost of their traumatic dispossession from their whānau. As Khylee Quince so poignantly recalls in her recent article for Newsroom:

Over 70 percent of our prison population has a care and protection background – many removed from families into state care. Children in care are 107 times more likely to be imprisoned by age 20 than other children.

Equally disturbing and connected – the “State Care” to mental health pipeline:


So no, this is not an isolated event – it is not isolated in terms of the nature of the uplift, it is not isolated in terms of its causing factor, it is not isolated in terms of its implications across a child’s life, or that of the mother, it is not even unique to Aotearoa – and we cannot treat it as such. It is not an Aotearoa problem, it is not a Māori problem. It is a racism problem.

We cannot continue to look at these issues besetting us – abuse of Māori and Pacific Islanders in state care, homeless Māori and Pacific Islanders, hyper-incarceration of Māori and Pacific Islanders, higher mortality rates for Māori and Pacific Islanders, and the taking of Māori and Pacific Island children from their homes – and assess them independently as if the core issue of colonial racism is not the driving factor. How many times must our government continue to address these issues at an agency level before it will accept that the entire government system needs an overhaul?

In the same article, Khylee recalled:

A couple of months ago I met with a Māori inmate in Mt Eden Prison. He was 50 years old, and told me that his cellmate had first been his room-mate when they were eight years old In Hokio Beach Training School 42 years earlier. He talked of their life-long relationship, and their “graduation” from state care, to youth justice residence, to adult prison as if it was inevitable. This is one of the “pipelines” those of us who work in criminal justice refer to – the “welfare-to-justice pipeline” – a metaphor referring to the connection between being removed or uplifted from family into state care, and offending as young people and as adults.”

It is chilling to think that this is the same trajectory that could have been set were the midwives and whānau of the young woman in the Newsroom story not as vigilant as they were – and equally chilling to consider the other instances, every week, who are not as fortunate. Each of them will have a story as heartbreaking and harrowing as what has rocked the nation in this past week. Ironically, this evening while I was writing this, a tweet from United Nations Rapporteur for Indigenous Rights Vicky Tauli-Corpuz popped up:

Our Māmās are sacred. They are strong, resilient, and capable. Given a chance they are amazing mothers. We must view this as the default for our young Māori mothers – wraparound, whānau inclusive, support and protection for a young Māori Māmā does not just serve her – it serves her baby, her whānau, and as that trajectory continues, it serves our entire community. We must shift the perception from one of a young parent as an individual problem, to that of a community who, in failing them, is failing ourselves.

We must also strip these harmful organizations of the Māori façades they utilize to cloak their ongoing colonial project. The first step on the pathway to justice is truth, and every day that we allow these groups to maintain their lies about caring for and supporting Māori whānau we are denying them an important opportunity to confront their own racism. For 250 years now, colonial forces have assumed rights over Māori lands and Māori bodies that simply are not theirs to take. This will only halt when we call it for what it is – a continuation of the racist colonial project of Indigenous dispossession.

Then, and only then, will we start our journey to true justice for our children, their Māmās, and whānau.

For media enquiries about E Hine – reducing barriers to care for pregnant Maori women under 20 years and their infants please contact Dr Beverly Lawton, Faculty of Health, Victoria University

[1] Adcock, A. (2016). E hine, ngā whāea: Teen mothering in the gaze. (Unpublished Master’s Thesis). Victoria University of Wellington

Hands Of Our Tamariki : He Waka Eke Noa

handsLeonie Pihama & Rihi Te Nana on behalf of Hands Off Our Tamariki Network.

As the issues surrounding the uplift and forced removal of tamariki Māori continue to gain momentum around the country we have been asked by some of our whānau ‘who’ and ‘what’ is Hands off Our Tamariki. Given the upcoming rally we have written this blog to provide some background to the network.

Hands Off Our Tamariki is a Network of Māori who came together to respond and raise issues surrounding the change of Child Youth and Family legislation in 2016. All of those involved in the Network have been active in challenging the uplift of tamariki Māori for some time. Some are survivors of State removal, some have whāngai in their whānau, some are Māori social workers, some work in the health sector, some are active in Te Kōhanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Māori, some work in the wider area of education, some are caregivers, some are lawyers, some are in the process now of fighting for their tamariki and mokopuna. We are whānau, we are hapū, we are iwi, we are Māori.

In 2016 we wrote an Open Letter to Whānau, Hapū, Iwi, Iwi Leaders Forum, Māori Members of Parliament, Māori National and Iwi Organisations calling for action on the change of legislation related to Child, Youth & Family Services. That was our first action as a collective. Over the past 3 years we have been working to provide information and raise awareness of the issue of the removal of tamariki by the State.

Our people have called for generations for the halting of Māori child removal. Our tūpuna  shared with us their visionary aspirations for future generations, their dreams for us to hold to our self-determination, to live on our lands as whānau, hapū and iwi,  to know who we are and to live our lives as Māori.

The institutionalised removal of Māori children goes against all of those dreams and aspirations. It is an act of colonial oppression. To remove our future generations is to destroy whakapapa & impose intergenerational disconnection. This is not an isolated issue. It is a part of the history of the dispossession of generations of our ancestors and is the contemporary practice of the fragmentation of our fundamental ways of being as Māori people. It is the systematic embedded hatred of Indigenous Peoples. It is a part of wider colonising systemic racism, sexism, homophobia and class oppression that enforce acts of colonial domestication of Māori and Indigenous Peoples. This is not new. We have been fighting these issues for generations. The first lines of attack on our people were the dispossession of our lands, the source of our identity and the fragmentation of whānau, the source of our collective relationships. This continues in the systemic practices of colonisation today. The denial of our reo, our tikanga, our mātauranga has always been an instrument of colonial fragmentation and disconnection.

It is also important to say who we are not. We are not a formalised or registered organisation nor are we affiliated to any organisations, groups or institutions. We do not connect or advocate for any political party, religious organisations, national organisations or corporates. We are supported by some organisations that are a part of this struggle, and that align to the approach we are taking to this kaupapa, but we are independent Māori voices from across Aotearoa.

The rally to be held in Te Whanganui a Tara, on Te Ātiawa land, on July 30th has been called to raise these issues and to deliver the Open Letter and Petition. The kaupapa of the rally is clear “Hands Off Our Tamariki”. In doing this we acknowledge and recognise the work of many of our people who are pushing for change both outside and inside of the system, those whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori organisations that tiaki our tamariki and mokopuna, and those that are daily challenging the institutional racism that is embedded within the structures of the Crown. We ask that you continue the good fight, as we are aware of the many painful and often detrimental impacts of taking on such a struggle. But this, we know, is a fight that is tika and pono as it is grounded on an intent for the wellbeing of current and future generations.

Hands Off Our Tamariki affirms whānau as the foundation of Te Ao Māori and the place of tamariki and mokopuna at the centre, as the rito of Te Pā Harakeke.

Hutia te rito o te harakeke
Kei hea te kōmako e kō?
Kī mai ki au
He aha te mea nui o te ao
Māku e kī atu
He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata

Pluck the centre shoot from the flax bush
Where will the Bellbird sing?
Ask me
What is the most important thing in the world I will say
It is people, It is people, It is people
(Te Aupouri)

Hutia te rito is one whakataukī that reminds us that to remove the centre shoot is to kill the harakeke. The centre shoot is our tamariki. They are the future wellbeing of whānau. They are the future of our people. We are also reminded that we are all mokopuna and we will all be tupuna. We stand as mokopuna and tupuna. We stand as whānau. Whānau is the foundation for Te Ao Māori. Whānau is the birthing and the collective way we live. Hapū is the carrying of future generations and the grouping that surrounds and nurtures whānau. As Iwi we are the bones of the people, we are the collective grouping that provides a wider collective responsibility for hapū and whānau. As Māori we are the original, the pure, the Indigenous collective of these lands. This is us. As a Network we believe deeply that our tūpuna have given us all the guidance that we need to understand what is happening when our tamariki are removed.

The whakataukī ‘Matua Rautia’ reminds us that our tūpuna saw all tamariki as raised by hundreds of parents. It is our collective responsibility to care for our tamariki, mokopuna and whānau. As such, we will challenge the systems, we will challenge governments, we will challenge our own, to seek pathways of wellbeing for tamariki Maori. That is the foundation upon which Hands Off Our Tamariki stands. We also advocate for positive, systemic and transformative change to create support systems that affirm our tamariki, mokopuna, whānau, hapū and iwi in ways that enable us to thrive as Māori in contexts that are supported through tikanga, reo and mātauranga and enhance the potential that our tūpuna have always affirmed within us.  Hands Off Our Tamariki will exist as a Network for as long as we as Maori must fight the removal of our tamariki. We have a responsibility and obligation to stand up for our tamariki, mokopuna and whānau. The whakataukī ‘He Waka Eke Noa’ brings to the fore the power of the collective to move the waka forward. To make change that ensures the wellbeing of all tamariki and mokopuna we must move this waka forward together. Tēnā koutou.

If Liel Leibovitz is Serious About His Māori Politics He Shouldn’t Be Undermining Indigenous Sovereignty in Palestine, Turtle Island and Hawai’i

Nā Tina Ngata

I would like to start this post off by acknowledging the Indigenous Peoples of the lands involved here:

Nā tēnei mokopuna a ngā whānau whānui o Ngāti Porou, i te Tai Rāwhiti o Te Ika a Maui, tēnei te mihi atu kia koutou te iwi mōrehu, te iwi māia i Parihitini – e Kōkā ma, e Koro ma, e Tama ma – tēnā koutou.

Kia koutou hoki aku tuakana i Motu Honu Nui/Abya Yala me Hawai’i – tēnā koutou.

And to you, Lieb Leibovitz, I will say: E Noho (take a seat).

Just like broader society – there are Māori who support Israel.

I mean not many, but they’re there.

There are many more who support, and empathise, with Palestine. Māori support of Palestine is well documented, and voiced, through communities such as Kia Ora Gaza – and proudly represented by Māori MP Marama Davidson who recently travelled to Gaza on board the Women’s Peace Flotilla as an Indigenous woman to stand in solidarity with Palestinian women and in opposition to the ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Like them, I support Palestine, and as an Indigenous Woman and a Wāhine Māori I’m saying to Leil Leibovitz:

You do NOT get to use our suffering at the hands of our colonizers to erase the crimes of Israel against Palestine.

The thought that this guy – as a past employee of the Spokesperson Unit of the Israeli Defence Forces; as a member of a settler-colonial state; who is LIVING on Turtle Island; who actually wrote a book that uses religious entitlement to legitimise not only the occupation of Palestine and Turtle Island, but also going to war on their Indigenous inhabitants – THIS GUY would all of a sudden become the bastion for Māori Rights?

Yeah, nah.

Let’s get a few things straight:

YES – In 1831, fewer than 1,000 Europeans were living in New Zealand, foreigners vastly outnumbered by the “local Māori tribes”. And yes, fifty years later, that number skyrocketed to half a million, courtesy of British policy that encouraged settlers to sail to distant shores and remain there.

THIS IS PRECISELY why we are able to empathise with the Palestinian experience of Israeli settler population influx in their lands.

YES in 1863, the NZ government ordered all Māori to lay down their arms and passed the New Zealand Settlements Act, which enabled them to thieve 4 million acres of Māori land without even the pretense of due process.

THIS IS PRECISELY why we stand in solidarity with Palestine who have experienced rapid land theft at the hands of the Israeli government. (That paragraph of the article was particularly vomitous by the way).

YES, according to a recent UN report, over 300,000 Māori children, one-third of the country’s child population, now live under the poverty line. And yes, we are indeed almost three times as likely as non-Māori to experience unfair treatment on the basis of our ethnicity.

Understanding the impact of systemic bias upon our children is PRECISELY what underpins our opposition to Israel as the only country in the world that automatically prosecutes children in military courts which lack basic and fundamental fair trial guarantees. It is precisely why we decry the arrests of nearly 8,000 Palestinian children since 2000, who have been prosecuted in an Israeli military detention system notorious for the systematic ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children.

And YES – Lorde should very much be mindful of the way settler colonialism has played out in her own nation (even I pointed that out early on). Just as Liel should be mindful of how settler colonialism allows him to sit where he is writing what he does.

And let’s be clear on what he writes:

Liel Leibovitz believes that, as chosen people, Israel and the USA have a divine right to colonize Palestine, Turtle Island and Hawai’i. This includes the divine (in fact necessary) right to go to war on its Indigenous inhabitants.

Good old “God said I could” – and hasn’t just about every Indigenous People heard that old chestnut.

If it’s difficult for you to reconcile that with Liel’s cry for Māori rights that’s your astute gland at work. He’s not at all interested in Māori rights, or Indigenous rights, at all, just in using our mamae in the latest version of #Whataboutism in order to distract from his own nation’s ongoing violations of Indigenous and Human rights.

So NO, Liel – you don’t get to use our pain at the hands of the settler colonial state in support of your own settler colonial state.

You DON’T get to wave us about as a distraction from the crimes of your own government.

You DON’T get to write books that undermine the sovereignty of our Indigenous brothers and sisters in Turtle Island, in Hawai’i, and in Palestine – and then try to uphold a platform for Māori rights.

You want to rummage around on the net for distraction tools to fix your rapidly deteriorating propoganda machine – look elsewhere. Te Ao Māori ain’t it.


In loving tribute to our dear beloved sister Koreti Mavaega Tiumalu

We are honoured to have our sister Tuiloma Lina Samu pay tribute to the recent passing of Pacific Climate activist Koreti Mavaega Tiumalu. Lina and Koreti both personify the strength and love and service Indigenous women give to their families, communities and our wider region and the world.




In loving tribute to our dear beloved sister Koreti Mavaega Tiumalu who passed away on Sunday 2 July in Wellington.

Koreti was the Pacific Co-ordinator for and she  both  strong connections, networks. and lived experience of of the hard fought efforts already in existence around the Pacific . She inspired and  mentored a lot  of the work that is being done around the Pasifiki/ Moana/ Moana-nui-o-Kiva/ Pasefika/ Pasifika, humbly leading and guiding the Pacific climate justice movement amongst our Pacific nations and peoples.

I recall our friendship and professional support we gave each other over the years.

In 2012 I travelled  to the Rio +20 Conference in Rio de Janeiro sponsored by the Asian Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP) to represent Pasifika.

Before leaving I got a call from a woman named Koreti, was going and was trying to get a Pasifika community meeting up and running at St Anne’s Catholic community hall in Manurewa.

I was so thrilled that she’d made contact to ask me to come and speak at this fonotaga for Pasifika communities about and her new role as Pacific Co-ordinator – I said YES without hesitation!

When I realized that she was connected to me through marriage, I was even happier to support! Her niece Amataga Iuli and Amataga’s brothers who are connected to me through their father’s Sapunaoa, Falealili aiga (the nu’u where I get my suafa matai “Tuiloma” from) were there well before the start of that meeting in the Winter of 2012, to help their beloved Aunty set up the hall and the food before guests started arriving.

I  fondly recall Koreti at  PowerShift Youth Hui in Tamaki Makaurau in December 2012

At that fono I also remember the powerful speech that Koreti gave to the main session and the beautiful puletasi that she wore. She was so nervous, but I knew she’d be glorious as she was! I told her to have a little lotu before her speech and to have something with her, something from her aiga or her husband that would help to settle her so that she wouldn’t feel overwhelmed and/ or alone. She was magnificent! I hope that someone posts up her speech from that PowerShift December 2012 in Auckland!

In 2013 Koreti ran another Pasifika fonotaga this time at the Ellen Melville Hall in the CBD Auckland. She asked me to present at that fonotaga as well. In 2013 she was going real hard to build upon the exceptional networks of trust and love and loyalty that she built around the Pasifika region for

I  had my reservations about t organisations and the resourcing of such important work in the Pasifika, often critical of Koreti doing so much on so very little – but holy shit did she do it !

With such grace, dignity, honesty, love and loyalty – everything that has in the Pacific – its reputation, its good name, its everything is owed to this beautiful strong sister Koreti Mavaega Tiumalu!  EVERYTHING!

She recently travelled to support our indigenous sisters and brothers in the Alberta who are continuing their ongoing struggles of protection against the wreckage and utter devastation that tar sands mining is having on their environment.


She was an innovator of the “Raise a Paddle” movement to bring about our standing in solidarity with everyone around the world especially first nations and indigenous people.

Fighting hard to bring to authorities in power to justice for allowing companies to destroy everything- to make them answerable and accountable for taking us without consequence to destruction and ruin of our natural resources:

drinking water, trees, land, air, oceans, food sovereignty, Mother Earth Papatuanuku herself for our present and future generations.

My last communication with Koreti was about getting out on the waka at Te Whare Waka in Wellington, to show our tautoko/ tapua’iga/ solidarity with our mana whenua aiga/ whanau during the warmer months in Whanganui -a-Tara Harbour.

I’m going to keep to that pact we made and organise a tribute maarunga i te waka. And every time I raise a paddle wherever I am in Aotearoa, Samoa, in the Moana nui a Kiwa/ Pacific and across the world – I will always remember Koreti and EVERYTHING she did to advance and enhance our Pasifika peoples’ profiles and viewpoints/ stance in the local, regional, nationwide and global work of climate change.

Fa’afetai tele atu mo au tautua malosi uso! Malolo mai i le filemu Ia manuia lava lau malaga uso Koreti Tofa! Tofa! Tofa!

Amuia lava le masina – e alu ma toe sau”. Blessed is the moon as it goes and returns – but not us, no not us.



Tuiloma Lina Samu : Salelesi; Faleula; Sapunaoa, Falealili ma Pu’apu’a, Savai’i. Born, raised and schooled in Mangere. Mother to Jessica (26).

Sister and Aunty.

Educated at Nga Tapuwae, University of Auckland and about to complete a PhD (Health) through the Whariki Research Centre, School of Public Health, Massey University. Founder of the Whariki Whaiora & Family Whanau services for mental wellbeing.

Chairperson Kaiwhakahaere of He Waka Matauranga ki Tamaki Makaurau that specialises Literacy and numeracy for Pasifika and Maori families. Love Life Fono and sexuality diversity champion.

Tulafale-Ali’i orator matai from Sapunaoa, Falealili, Samoa. Proficiency in six languages including Samoan and Te Reo Maori dialects.

Hone Harawira and the War on Drugs

On the Nation this weekend, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira raised the idea of executing Chinese drug dealers, imprisoning them for life or deporting them, as a response to the methamphetamine problem in his area. “We can pass a law to say any Chinese that brings meth or precursors into this country is either going to jail forever, is going to be sent back and never allowed here again, is going to get executed.” he says.

I felt sick to my guts when I watched this. Hone is deliberately targeting and scapegoating migrants while upping the ante for a punitive and violent war on drugs.

His ‘war on drugs’ rhetoric is political demagoguery, He is deliberately exploiting an important issue in our communities by fanning the flames of prejudice and ignorance and shutting down any reasoned deliberation about drug policy in NZ for short term political gain.

The most fundamental demagogic technique is scapegoating, and this is a deliberate tactic that Hone has used before in the media. It’s dog whistling politics of the lowest common denominator.

Hone is just jumping on the xenophobic bandwagon that is being created and exploited by all the major political parties this election. We need informed, reasoned debate about drug policy in this country, not populist media stunts and the dumbing down of issues.

Harawira’s chilling rhetoric reflects that of Duterte in the Phillipines where his violent war on drugs has resulted in the extra judicial murder of thousands. Hone’s rhetoric is one small step away from calling for all drug dealers and users to be executed. 

“ Since Duterte took office in June, Philippine national police and vigilante death squads have embarked on a campaign to slaughter drug users as well as drug dealers. “Hitler massacred three million Jews [sic], now, there’s three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said in September. Last month, he told a group of jobless Filipinos that they should “kill all the drug addicts.” Police have killed over 7,000 people, devastated poor areas of Manila and other cities, and used the drug war as a pretext to murder government officials and community leaders.”


The War on Drugs and the Mass Incarceration of Maori


Currently Māori are bearing the brunt of our current ‘war on drugs’ . Maori are four times more likely to get a drug conviction, we make up about 40 per cent of the prisoner population for drug offences.

Māori are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested and convicted for minor drug offences than other New Zealanders. These laws are creating more harm for Māori than it prevents.

Meth (and other drugs) are causing harm in our communities but we don’t end harm by creating more harm. Using the criminal justice system as the intervention has not worked and, in fact has made it worse. It will do nothing to stop the devastation of drug abuse in our communities .

We have seen in America that the War on Drugs first promulgated by Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan has resulted as a war on people of colour and poor communities, directly resulting in the expansion of the prison industrial complex. We see the same failed policies replicated here in New Zealand.

We have seen world over punitive drug policies that cause the widespread violation of human rights, as well as unprecedented levels of incarceration.

Here, Michelle Alexander, Author of The New Jim Crow, speaks about the political strategy behind the War on Drugs and its connection to the mass incarceration of Black and Brown people in the United States.



What to do ?


There are many examples of researched and enlightened drug policies around the world that we can use as examples to counter the problems associated with drug abuse in our communities that does not cause harm or result in a boom in mass incarceration.

In 2001, Portugal decriminalised all illicit substances after a nasty war on drugs. Since then, the country’s drug use and overdose rates have fallen. Drug-related crime decreased and demand for health clinic and addiction services surged.


For 15 years Portugal has implemented a decriminalisation approach. As a result overdoses have decreased dramatically, people get the help they need, HIV & Hep C has decreased, and incarceration has decreased.


There is some amazing mahi being done by Māori working in the drug and alcohol field working on transformative anti oppressive kaupapa Māori change. Tuari Potiki (Ngai Tahu) presented a positive and inspiring speech at the UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem last year.

“ Sometimes, when we are threatened, we go to war.

And sometimes, we go to war against the wrong people.

If we decide to wage a war against cancer. Would we do that by bombing the people who have cancer?

Many nations have joined up to wage a war against drugs. And have ended up attacking and harming people who really need our help and support.”

“I believe that if you are not a part of the solution then you are a part of the problem, and that the major part of the world drug problem is those countries that continue to block progress towards compassionate, proportionate and health focused responses to drug use and drug users.

So the first thing I call for in standing before you today – is to stop punishing people who are in need of our help. We must stop criminalising people who are in need of our help and support.”

“If there is a war to be fought, and I believe that there is, it should be a war on poverty, on disparity, on dispossession, on the multitude of political and historical factors that have left, and continue to leave, so many people vulnerable and in jeopardy.”


This is the type of courageous Māori leadership that we need, that is measured and intelligent and will provide real solutions to the issues our communities are facing with drugs. We need to be  weary of knee-jerk responses that stigmatise those already struggling with drugs who need tautoko,support and kaupapa Maori health based approaches, not rhetoric and vitriol.

Sina Brown-Davis

Te Uriohau, Te Roroa, Fale Ula, Va’vau







Another Ugly Chapter in the Crowns History of State Imposed Abuse

This blog includes reflections on recent developments regarding Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill and includes part of the submission by Associate Professor Leonie Pihama on behalf of Te Kotahi Research Institute to the Social Services Select Committee.

Over the past months the collective #Handsoffourtamariki has been working to raise both awareness and opposition to the governments proposed restructuring of the current Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) to the Ministry of Vulnerable Children. The date for the new structure has been determined to be April 1st 2017, and with only a week until the launching of the new Ministry of Vulnerable Children there remain many critical issues yet to be fully engaged by the government let alone any meaningful process of resolution.

What is clear across all of the processes at play is the ongoing denial of the Crown to undertake a meaningful Treaty relationship with our people. In this case, and across all current government arrangements, there continues to be a denial of the fundamental rights of our people to care for our tamariki and mokopuna. Within all current arrangements the Crown assumes its right to remove tamariki from whānau without any involvement of the wider whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori organisations. This runs in direct contradiction to the agreements within Te Tiriti o Waitangi for we as hapū and iwi to assert our tino rangatiratanga over our lives and the lives of our whānau. Where many political players and commentators continue to deny this right, the Waitangi Tribunal report ‘He Whakaputanga me te Tiriti / The Declaration and the Treaty’ (WAI 1040) found that Māori did not cede sovereignty, and as such we never ceded the rights and authority over the wellbeing of our tamariki and whānau. ( ,

Dame Tariana Turia has stated consistently that these actions are a further act of Institutional Racism. Evidence highlights that such State violence has been perpetuated upon generations of tamariki and mokopuna who have been removed and placed into State institutions. Both Māori experience and research in the field highlight that successive governments have been seriously remiss in fulfilling its obligations to our people.

In regards to the current legislative developments we have, as a collective, advocated strongly against the development of a Ministry that is based upon deficit approaches to tamariki in this country, and in particular to tamariki Māori and whānau. We have not been alone in such a position, which has been advocated by a range of organisations across the country including both the previous and current Commissioner for Children.

The Ministry of Vulnerable Children may launch as a new structure on April 1st however there is nothing new about how it will go about it’s business in fact there is more indication that it will re-entrench some very unhealthy and failed practices of the 1960’s era of adoptions where thousands of Māori children were denied their fundamental right to know who they are and where they come from.

Research undertaken on the ‘Vulnerable Childrens’ papers by Rihi Te Nana indicates that the limited engagement by government, suggests that this has been a deliberate move on the government’s part to maintain power and control over Iwi/Māori. Ms Te Nana highlighted:
“The Government continues to see Iwi/Māori as consultants who provide advice or provide services to whānau, and fail to undertake a meaningful Treaty relationship that would see our people exercise our right to being self-determining in regards to the wellbeing of our children.”

In her latest interview with e-Tangata, Paora Moyle makes the following statement:
“Anne Tolley has ignored multiple recommendations to establish strategic partnerships with iwi and Māori organisations. Instead her ministry consults and engages with and privileges organisations like Barnardos and Open Home Foundation.
It’s the same old policies of propping up white-is-right foster care organisations, but failing to support parents and whānau as the first and fundamental carers.”

CYFs and associated Agencies have a history of disrespectful behavior towards whānau and of being dismissive of whānau input into the placement of tamariki.
Furthermore it has been well documented that Māori children are placed into contexts by the Government agencies where their needs remain largely unmet because the legislation, policies and interventions lack cultural context or appropriateness. The previous Children’s Commissioner provided clear evidence that CYFs does not provide for the needs of the children that they remove and that there is little evidence that supports the current, and proposed model is actually working as an intervention process. In providing a summary of the ‘State of Care’ report he writes:
We don’t know if children are better off as a result of state intervention
There is little reliable or easily accessible data available about the outcomes of children in the care system. In our view, Child, Youth and Family and MSD’s systems are not routinely measuring and recording the information that matters, and the integration of data between MSD and other government agencies is poor. Better collection and analysis of data is essential for Child, Youth and Family to improve its services and for the Government and the public to have confidence that Child, Youth and Family and other state agencies are improving outcomes for vulnerable children. We don’t have enough information to say conclusively whether children are better off as a result of state intervention, but the limited data we do have about health, education, and justice outcomes is concerning.”

Many Māori who have experienced State institutions and foster care experienced physical, psychological, spiritual and cultural abuse. Much of the abuse suffered by Māori in State ‘care’ has been perpetuated within State validated institutions. It is reported that
“Judge Carolyn Henwood, who headed the panel that has been hearing grievances since 2008, said: “Foster caregivers and extended families, social workers and staff, teachers, the clergy, cooks, gardeners, night watchmen, even other children and patients, all took part in abuse.
“We heard of people using their fists and their feet, as well as weapons and other instruments on occasion, to attack children,” she says in the report.
“When we asked people why they had come, they said they wanted to be heard, they wanted an apology and accountability, and they wanted to improve state care for children, for the next generation.
Even now, New Zealand had no official “duty of care” towards children written into its law, Henwood said.”

The abuse as a result of State Intervention is noted in the Henwood report as follows:
“As many boys as girls were sexually abused. About 57% of the men we saw had been sexually abused and 57% of the women. The damage done sometimes seems to be irreparable. Many people reported that they felt helpless and enraged that there was no one to whom they could report it. Many of the children who had been abused in State care fell into anti-social and criminal behaviour and ended up in prison or psychiatric hospitals in later life. It is estimated that about 40% of prisoners grew up in state care. Their lives were set on a dangerous and damaging path during this time. There are many people who have been living on the edge ever since their experience of State care as children.” (p.12)

There has been increased comment made about the impact of the changes on Māori whānau. Emma Espiner writes a compelling piece titled ‘Closing an ugly chapter in our history’, opening with the following statement:
In a remarkable reversal by the government, Māori children taken from their families by the state may yet win back the right to be re-homed with whānau, hapū or iwi Māori. The priority to consider Māori whānau when rehoming Māori children uplifted from unsafe homes had been a central feature of Child, Youth and Family protocol for over 30 years.
This priority was dropped when the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill was presented to Parliament. As recently as Waitangi Day, Prime Minister Bill English was immovable on the issue, asserting he had no problem with the wording. But last week Social Development Minister Anne Tolley agreed she is open to reinstating this important right. Due to the unusual coverage of the issue in the media (Māori issues aren’t typically given prominence in non-Māori media unless there’s a crime or expensive Treaty claim involved) the topic came up in conversation frequently in the past few months.
“But Māori children are more likely to be abused when they’re put in Māori homes, aren’t they?”
“Why do Māori want to put kids in unsafe homes, just because they’re Māori?”
“Shouldn’t the safety of children be the most important consideration?”

This blog speaks primarily to the impact of the proposed changes and some of the justifications for the changes. Looking at the questions raised by Emma Espiner in her article we can track that what in fact underpins these questions are statements from CYFS and the Minister which call into question the safety of whānau placements. Paora Moyle has highlighted that the Minster has perpetuated this view,
“Her justification all along has been that Māori children are more vulnerable than non-Maori when returned to their whānau because they are at high risk of being re-abused.
But what she failed to mention is that this was occurring most often as a result of the dump-and-run, patch-and-dispatch practices by social workers who don’t value the needs of Māori children as highly as non-Maori.”

It is important that people understand that the statements that abuse is more likely to occur within whānau placements is in fact largely unsubstantiated and denies the clear evidence that the current system is highly abusive of Māori children and there is documented evidence that tamariki have experienced serious acts of physical and sexual abuse whilst in State ‘care’. The Henwood report alone highlights that for many tamariki Māori the abuse perpetuated by State Institutions exceeds that which is documented for tamariki returning in to ‘Kin’ care.

What underpins the governments push to remove the current Section 13 which gives priority placement within whānau is an Internal Report by the Ministry of Social Development (2012) ‘Outcomes for Children Discharged from CYF Care in 2010’ has provided some impetus for the proposed removal of Section.

This report is referenced also in the Expert Panel Report (MSD 2015). In reviewing the report it is essential that it be recognized that the report as a research document is flawed on multiple levels and should not be consider robust or be used to inform any changes or amendments in relation to the placement of tamariki Māori.

Key flaws in the Ministry of Social Development (2012) ‘Outcomes for Children Discharged from CYF Care in 2010’ Report include;
(i) lack of clear indications as to the what constitutes ‘kin’ care;
(ii) the inclusion of ‘friends of family’ in ‘kin’ care figures;
(iii) lack of information in regards to whānau included in figures;
(iv) no peer or external review of the document and the ways in which data is presented;
(v) no information as to how placements were determined;
(vi) no evidence or indication of any involvement of whānau, hapū , iwi or Māori organsational engagement in processes of placement;
(vii) no evidence of inclusive Family Group Conferences in regards to placement and return;
(viii) an assumption that CYFs itself devoid of any responsibility for determining how and where tamariki are placed and;
(ix) a deficit approach is taking throughout the report with the location of ‘blame’ on whānau and Māori more generally for repeat abuse when there is not indication that whānau, hapū or iwi had any decision making in any of the placement processes and with no meaningful or robust evidence to back that positioning.

As a Research Director these shortcomings and fundamental research flaws in regards to the Ministry of Social Development (2012) ‘Outcomes for Children Discharged from CYF Care in 2010’ report raise serious issues as to the validity of it’s findings and as such it should never have been used to inform any changes in regards to Section 13 of the Act.

The current proposed changes to the legislation is not only a fundamental breach of our Treaty rights to care for our people but it is also incredibly irresponsible and negligent on the part of the Ministry and the Crown.

The Children’s Commissioner (2015) provides clear evidence that CYFs does not provide for the needs of the children that they remove and that there is little evidence that supports the current, and proposed model is actually working as an intervention process. This has particular impact on tamariki Māori who make up a significant number of those in State Care. In providing a summary of the ‘State of Care’ report the Commissioner writes:
“We don’t know if children are better off as a result of state intervention. There is little reliable or easily accessible data available about the outcomes of children in the care system. In our view, Child, Youth and Family and MSD’s systems are not routinely measuring and recording the information that matters, and the integration of data between MSD and other government agencies is poor. Better collection and analysis of data is essential for Child, Youth and Family to improve its services and for the Government and the public to have confidence that Child, Youth and Family and other state agencies are improving outcomes for vulnerable children. We don’t have enough information to say conclusively whether children are better off as a result of state intervention, but the limited data we do have about health, education, and justice outcomes is concerning.” (my emphasis)

In this process the Ministry of Social Development has taken significant backward steps in regards to the wellbeing and care of tamariki and mokopuna Māori through the intended removal of clauses within the Act that provide for the cultural wellbeing and safety and the affirmation of whakapapa and whanaungatanga for our tamariki.

In doing so the Ministry of Vulnerable Children, increases the risk to Māori children through an increases ability to place them within non- Māori families disconnected from their identity and cultural ways of being. Positive identity through knowing and understanding one’s whakapapa is 
a foundation for success. Morehu (2005, p.46) stresses the link between whakapapa and nurturing children,
“children are our whakapapa, and whakapapa is our past, present and future. As whānau and wider community we have a responsibility to nurture our children so that they are provided with opportunities and are encouraged to reach their potential”. 

Cultural identity is framed through an understanding of whakapapa and locates us in relationship to each other with whānau, hapū and iwi. It also provides a way to understand our future through our connectedness to our past. As Pere (1982, p.61) states;
“if a child is to determine his or her own future or course of direction, then the assumption is made that the child will need to learn as much as possible about his or her “roots” in the past”. 

The significance that whakapapa has in ensuring identity and connectedness continues to be acknowledged today. Socially and educationally, whakapapa, connectedness and identity are important factors for the wellbeing of Māori children. Dr Melinda Webber (2012) reports,
“Positive racial-ethnic identity and cultural connectedness are essential ingredients in the educational success of Māori students. Positive racial-ethnic identity can shape Māori students’ dispositions, attitudes, engagement and connectedness to others in their racial-ethnic group. It can also influence their connectedness to school and learning.” (p. 26).

Traditional Māori childrearing practices were developed within a context where whakapapa, whānau and collectivity were central to the way in which society functioned (Joseph, 2007). Raising children was a collective effort shared amongst extended whānau. This form of childrearing alleviated stress on parents whilst providing children with an environment conducive to their development and wellbeing (Pere, 1982).

Whānau is the fundamental building block within Māori society. Anyone who works to support Māori communities recognise the primacy of whānau as a preferred relational system of the Māori, we are enabled to understand a basic framework of cultural imperatives.

Whānau is not the same as family. Within discussions related to the reforms  the dominant terms used are family and kin. These terms do not equate to whānau and they act to marginalise the extended nature of whānau. Whānau structures provide for a system of accountability and responsibility. It is a structure through which Māori societal and cultural norms may be reinforced and acts as a resource through which to obtain support, knowledge of the world and to receive necessary values and belief systems essential to both the individual and the society. In a comprehensive discussion of Māori concepts titled ‘Te Hinātore Ki Te Ao Māori: A Glimpse Into The Māori World’ (Ministry of Justice 2001) whānau is described as:
“The basic unit of Māori society into which an individual was born and socialised… a unit for ordinary social and economic affairs, and making basic day to day decisions. Its members had close personal, familial and reciprocal contacts and decision-making relationships with each other. (p.30).

It is within this context that tamariki and mokopuna are linked to hapū and iwi and secure their whakapapa links. The importance of maintaining links, of knowing one’s whakapapa, remaining connected to one’s identity and having a sense of belonging are essential elements to the wellbeing of children within the whānau context. It is through whakapapa that Cultural Identity and Connectedness is maintained and passed through intergenerationally.

International Indigenous Research related to Indigenous Peoples and the impact of Historical and Intergenerational Trauma highlights that culture and cultural connectedness is important to prevention and intervention of personal trauma (Walters Research in the area of Historical and Intergenerational Trauma for Māori highlights that dominant approaches to the wellbeing of whānau, hapū and iwi do not recognize the significance of whānau and collective approaches to wellbeing, as such there remains a focus on individual approaches that fail to see the centrality of whānau for Māori wellbeing.

Dame Tariana Turia (2016) stated that these actions are a further act of 
Institutional Racism and Iwi should have statutory rights for the care of our tamariki and determine what is the best interests for tamariki Māori. Acts of Institutional Racism deny Māori our rights to live as Māori and to have control over our lives and the lives of our tamariki and mokopuna.

Research by Allan Cooke (2013) provides a significant overview of the legislative history related to the role of the Crown in providing for Māori children in the State care system, highlighting the consistent marginalization of whānau, hapū and iwi in regards to the wellbeing of tamariki Māori.

Paora Moyle (2016) has indicated an alarming rate at which Māori babies are being uplifted and placed into non-Māori environments. She states:
“In New Zealand, the statistics of newborns uplifted by the state are not made public; these requested through the Official Information Act process. In the 2012 – 2013 year, 13 new-born Māori, from a total of 26 were removed from the birthing table, and 80 Māori babies from a total of 157 were removed from their mother within 30 days of their birth. (Bernadette McKenzie, Deputy Chief Executive, Child Youth & Family, personal communication, June, 6, 2014) In the first instance, these infants are most often placed with state approved non-Māori caregivers until the concerns held can be addressed via an FGC. Māori make up 15% of the total New Zealand populations and the uplift of nearly 100 infants a year from their mothers, many of who are not returned, essentially wipes out future generations of Māori.” In 2015, the trafficking of these infants significantly increased, more than 60+% of those uplifted were Maori and these are the ones that were clearly Maori. The actual number is likely to be much higher as the primary ethnicity is recorded by the social worker and often this is discretionary…depending who that social worker decides the child may go to.” 

International Research highlights the opposite, that it is culture, language and cultural connectedness that enables Indigenous tamariki and mokopuna to overcome experiences of trauma, both Historical and Intergenerational (Duran & Duran 1995; Duran 2006; Walters 2002)

The current training processes for Social Workers within CYFS is inadequate. A focus on very basic cultural competency does not equip Social Workers within Agencies to work with whānau Māori. 
The Henwood report (2015) highlighted that many working with CYFS and associated Institutes hold flawed assumptions about Māori children and their whānau. There is a need for greater numbers of Māori working with tamariki, whānau, hapū and iwi, including in positions of greater decision making within the Ministry. 
A number of submissions to the Social Services Select committee highlight that mainstream social work training fails to provide adequate training for social workers to understand the context of colonization and its impact on Māori whānau, hapū and iwi, nor do they require social workers to develop a consciousness of either personal or institution racism and it’s impact on Māori, Pacific communities or other minority groups living within this country.

In order for tamariki, whānau, hapū and iwi to be served effectively all workers within CYFS and associated institutions need to undergo training with skilled Māori Providers to understand issues of Historical Trauma, Institutional and Personal Racism, Obligations in regards to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and fundamental understanding of te reo and Tikanga Māori. No Social Worker should do anywhere near tamariki and whānau Māori within this basic skill set. The legislation fails to provide adequate definition of what is required in this area. The preface of Pūao Te Ata Tū states, “At the heart of the issue is a profound misunderstanding or ignorance of the place of the child in Māori society and its relationship with whānau, hapū iwi structures.”

The current reforms will see a return to this position with the removal of any legislative ability for whānau, hapū and iwi to enact their rights under Te Tiriti o Waitangi to have rangatiratanga over the wellbeing of their tamariki and mokopuna.”

There is greater need for the Crown to give effect to a meaningful and equitable Treaty partnership and too ensure that whānau, hapū and iwi organisations are well resourced to take on the role as primary organisations working with tamariki and whānau Māori. The evidence is clear, the longer Māori remain in a position of having the lives of our tamariki and mokopuna being determined by the existing state systems, the more likely our life outcomes will continue to diminished.

Cameron, N., Pihama, L. Leatherby, R., Cameron, A. (2013) He Mokopuna He Tupuna: Investigating Māori Views of Childrearing Amongst Iwi in Taranaki. A Report by Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki Inc to the Lottery Community Sector Research Fund December 2013
Cooke, A., (2013) State Responsibility for Children in Care, Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, Dunedin: University of Otago
Duran, E., & Duran, B. (1995). Native American postcolonial psychology. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Duran, E. (2006). Healing the soul wound: Counseling with American Indians and other Native peoples. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Henwood, C. (2015) Some Memories Never Fade: Final Report ofThe Confidential Listening and Assistance Service, Wellington
Mead, H. M. (2003). Tikanga Māori: living by Māori values. Wellington, New Zealand: Huia Publishers.
Mikaere, A. (2005). Cultural invasion continued: the ongoing colonisation of tikanga Māori. Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence Spcial Issue – Te Purenga, 8(2), 134 – 172. of-NZ-Jurisprudence-vol-8-issue-2-2005.pdf
Ministry of Social Development, (2012) White Paper For Vulnerable Children Volume 1, Wellington: New Zealand Government
Ministry of Social Development, (2015) Modernising Child Youth and Family: Expert Panel Interim Report, Wellington: New Zealand Government
Morehu, C. (2005). A Māori perspective of whānau and childrearing in the 21st century case study. (Master of Education), University of Waikato. Retrieved from
Moyle, P (2016). ( Experiences_of_the_Family_Group_Conference_A_selection_of_findings )
Ministry of Justice (2001) He Hinātore ki te Ao Māori: A Glimpse Into the Māori World, March 2001, Wellington
New Zealand Ministerial Advisory Committee on a Māori Perspective for the Department of Social Welfare. (1988). Puao te atatu: Day break : the report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on a Māori Perspective for the Department of Social Welfare. New Zealand: Department of Social Welfare.
Office of the Children’s Commissioner (2015) The State of Care Report, Wellington
Pere, R. R. (1982). Ako: concepts and learning in the Māori tradition. Wellington, New Zealand: Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board.
Turia, T (2016) 1797579/tariana-turia-says-cyf’s-racist-and-iwi-should-get-rights
Walters, K. L., Simoni, J. M., & Evans-Campbell, T. (2002). Substance use among American Indians and Alaska natives: Incorporating culture in an “indigenist” stress-coping paradigm. Public Health Reports, 117, 104-117.

Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki Oral submission Māori Affairs Select Committee – New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill 2016

Te Wharepora Hou In support of the Hapū and Iwi of Te Atiawa and the struggle for the return of the Pekapeka Block in Waitara share the following oral submission presented at the first Māori Select Committee meeting held in Ngamotu (New Plymouth) on Friday November 18th 2016.  We encourage people across Aotearoa and beyond to read the links provided and to support the online petition to support the reu

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-10-14-53-amKo te tuatahi, he mihi aroha ki ngā Tūpuna e mau tonu ana tenei kaupapa hohonu. Tena koutou katoa ngā ringa raupa o te Māori Affairs Select Committee, rau rangatira mā e haere mai nei ki te whakarongo ki te tautoko ngā kai kōrero i tenei wā, ki ngā kai kōrero i mua i ahau kei te mihi.  Ko Taranaki te maunga, ko Ngati Mutunga te iwi ko Raumati te whānau.

This oral submission adds context to the written submission and to our recommendations. I am a member of the NZ Association of Counsellors, a member of the Taranaki Māori Women’s Network (TmwN) and also the Director of Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki Inc. (TTW). The Taranaki Māori Women’s Network is a collective who hold in trust the wellbeing of Taranaki and whose purpose is to creatively respond to issues that impact on whānau, hapū and iwi by way of the contemporary application of tikanga Māori to ameliorate the effects of historical trauma on the collective.

The taonga tuku iho (non-negotiable treasures) handed on to us by our Tūpuna and the principles exemplified by Te Raukura encourage members to enact collective ownership, responsibility and accountability by strengthening whānau relationships, cultural practices and to actively pursue the reclamation and resurrection of protective hapū institutions.
Tu Tama Wahine o Taranaki is a kaupapa Māori tangata whenua development and liberation organisation. The values that underpin it are tikanga Māori which is central to all service provision with the primary aim of empowering whānau, hapū and iwi to address historical and intergenerational trauma in the context of our lives today. The organisation has a responsibility to provide all whānau with an analysis of the socio-cultural, economic and political factors that impinge upon our lives and to maintain and promote; te wairua, te mana, te tapu, te ihi me ngā moemoea o ngā Mātua Tūpuna.

It is not helpful to forget our past. Whaitara has been earmarked by colonial imperialist history to be marginalised and to be fragmented, lost and confused culturally, socially and economically because our Tūpuna initiated a passive resistance movement – meaning resistance to government, law etc without violence by fasting, by demonstrating, and by refusing to cooperate. The passive resistance movement of Taranaki originated from Whaitara when Te Rangitake sent the women out to pull up the survey pegs. Thus began Te Pahua Tuatahi – Te Pahua o Whaitara – the plunder of Whaitara.

These days most people have some knowledge about Te Pahua o Parihaka – the plunder of Parihaka in 1881 but the first plunder was Te Pahua o Whaitara in 1865 one hundred and fifty one year’s eleven months and 9 days ago this fact has been relegated to the deep recesses of history and people’s minds because of te riri a te pakeha at the actions of our Tūpuna in challenging the authority of the Crown and its representatives – te puku riri remain, smouldering within them. But if we were to ask about this anger there would be denial that it even exists and responses would probably be ‘he iwi tahi tatou’, or about ownership and being able to freehold, having a roof over ones heads etc.

Our Tūpuna and subsequently their mokopuna have paid a great price for exercising their democratic right and responsibility in expressing their displeasure and disagreement with being rendered landless and turned into paupers in their own homelands. The debilitating colonial punishment, of a passive resistance movement, has left a corrosive soul wound which needs to heal and reminding the NPDC and general public about this injustice is to bring it back into the moral vision of the entire community.

The theft of Taranaki lands are a fact and create a shared history of one group being disposed and left destitute in their own lands and the other group wilfully benefiting from the spoils of thief, forced dispossession and war. The intergenerational fallout from this shared history has created disease in many forms. Some are easy to see and identify; such as family violence and diabetes but there are other diseases that are much more difficult to see or identify; such as greed, entitled and privileged behaviour that cultivates institutional racism and an unwillingness to return the spoils of stolen property. Behaviours that create dis-ease with oneself and in the company of others who are perceived as the ‘other’, therefore unknowable and possibility dangerous. How do we dare to speak our truth? Where is the safety, when the dominant political discourse comes from a position of wilful ignorance about history; and the drafters of this Bill have no concept of their privileged positions in it.

Poverty is not just about money or income. It is about unequal distribution of resources and the valuing of some interests over others; often those of a rich, well off and powerful minority over the interests of the disempowered. You have heard others this morning, including lease holders, describe that at a structural level this Bill involves the establishment of layers of new systems to determine how resources will not only be obtained, but how they will be distributed and to whom. These systems will again construct who will benefit and therefore who will be privileged and an institutional arrangement that is not appropriate for Māori is just inherently racist. This Bill will again set up structural conditions that perpetuate disadvantage for the dispossessed and will only serve to perpetuate advantage for those that have already benefited from the spoils of ill-gotten gain.

But the real issues of addressing privilege within the community and public arena are kept at bay often by the use of sanitising language; one example is the term endowment, which gets bandied about in relation to the Pekapeka like it was a gift bestowed upon our colonisers as a thank you pressie for rescuing us from ourselves.

But a gift is not a gift until it is freely offered. A gift is not a gift until it is freely given!

TTW brings a gift which is freely offered and originates from the work it does which originates from historical trauma and the legacy of colonial paternalistic ideologies of racial, gender and spiritual supremacy. We bring the gift of un-sanitised language, it is not intended to cause offense although it may do so because the real context of this almighty theft needs to be put in language that is understandable to everyone and there can be no uncertainty about what is being said.

Along with several others at TTW I am a family violence programme facillitator, educator and community researcher. We do group and individual programmes for women and children victims of violence and exposure to violence and also for male perpetrators of family violence. The three main areas of violence addressed are physical, psychological and sexual violation; the other areas that feed into those three are of course colonalisation and racism. Interestingly victim impact reports readily identify the areas of physical and psychological violation however sexual violation is not.

We enquire about context, and often the response is in line with “he just helps himself; or the biblical bit; comes like a thief in the night; – oh it can be day or night, it doesn’t matter – he just takes what he wants!” During the conversations that follow, reframing does occur and then also having to address the feelings of shame and feeling overwhelmed that this has happened to them.

In the men’s group, once they decide to stop playing the victim, physical and psychological violation is acknowledged but sexual violation is a clear no. Absolutely not no way. Rapists are considered the lowest of the low, they are scum, mongrels, and they are out there not in here.

We hear things like – “I work for what I get I’m really charming, I contribute to the family, I pay my way”. Great, economy based language. We are impressed – so you work hard, you do things together, make agreements, negotiate time etc; then we start to talk about sharing the good and bad times, together, making decisions together, asking permission, right of refusal, no really meaning no. As in, No, the complete sentence No!

Then it begins to dawn, understanding begins to unfold, that rapists aren’t really out there somewhere else that they are right here sitting next to them, actually, sitting on their seats. And possibly for the first time they begin to feel the impact that of some of their actions might have on other people.

Feelings of shame and understanding that by violating others you also violate yourself; their own whakapapa has been violated as well as their sense of belonging and connectedness to place.

The theft of the land is exactly the same. The land has been raped; therefore the people have been raped. We are one and the same! The feelings are the same; the effects are the same.

So how do we address violation? I’m sure you all know this but we will say it again anyway. It’s addressed by being accountable for our actions, by putting things right, by doing the right thing, by making a sincere apology and undertaking to NEVER behave in that manner again. However, ultimately, accountability needs to be internalised by the perpetrator on their journey of change behaviour; because nobody can make them accountable, they have to choose to be accountable, so, to place restraints around their behaviour and to tighten the web of accountability are important and legitimate actions, especially with a serial offender, this is to help reduce ongoing risk to the community.

Because a gift is not a gift until it is freely offered. A gift is not a gift until it is freely given!

Our tupuna gifted may tracks of land. For example land for mara, to grow kai on so people could survive, they even showed people how to live in their new environment, they gave land for educational institutions, land for institutions of worship to name a few.

But the Pekapeka was not gifted. It was stolen. It was not a gift it was stolen. And what do we do with stolen property? We return it to the victim of the theft at no cost to the victim.

The drafters of this Bill really need to stop behaving like the Pekapeka was gifted to them because it was not. And it is ironic that the drafters of this Bill have attempted to disguise Pre-emption as a fair and balanced solution instead of ensuring the hapū can regain the unqualified right to exercise full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries and other properties. A gift is not a gift until it is freely offered.

TTW recommends the MASC to:
• And we are going to use the words of a Colonel Robert Trimble, who in 1885 made a speech about the Treaty of Waitangi while defending the invasion, destruction and occupation of Parihaka; but we am going to repeat his words in relation to this New Plymouth District Council Waitara Lands Bill 2016 … “which I hope will be relegated to the waste paper basket which is about the only place it ought to be seen in.”

• And we recommend the MASC direct the NPDC to return the stolen lands to the hapū that hold mana whenua over the Pekapeka, without ‘strings attached’.

• Require the NPDC to undertake authentic and genuine dialogue with the Manukorihi and Otarua hapū about the stolen Pekapeka lands and that the NPDC put a stop to its ongoing shameful and disrespectful conduct in attempting to further alienate the Pekapeka from both hapū.

• That the NPDC support Manukorihi and Otarua Hapū, to utilise the hapū lands for their authentic purpose that is to benefit the collective not just a few people.

• We recommend that the Select Committee consider and give weight to our request that the NPDC be directed to return fair reparations to lease holders who have been paying a lease for their own stolen lands and that the time frame commence from the Sim Commission Report to the present day.

• We recommend that the Select Committee establish an independent inquiry, funded by the Crown, to fully investigate endowment and leasehold properties on the Pekapeka in Waitara that have been privatised since the restructuring of local government in 1989. And that the inquiry requires the NPDC to give a full account of what the proceeds gained from the stolen property was spent on including the amount spent on legal fees that have been funded from Waitara leasehold payments and sales.

• TTW recommends the MASC encourages the NPDC to do the right thing, to engage and help create an alternative future and to join into a decisive conversation, to make it relevant and new and to help invigorate it in our own unique Taranaki way. Because this did not happen, this did not happen with the drafting of this Bill; being able to ‘twick’ it here or there does not amount to co-creating nor is it an act of justice to any of the parties concerned.

• We support and encourage the Select Committee to show leadership in relation to these stolen lands so that the damage that has been inflicted on the Whaitara community can begin to be repaired and start to heal. The healing of this festering corrosive soul wound will benefit the whole community and the entire Taranaki region; in fact it will benefit our Nation because our country has been holding its breath for a long time. If you allow NPDC to continue to do business as usual it will not serve community wellbeing. Return the stolen lands and we will hear a collective sigh of relief. The diseases in this region are our stories etched into our land and bodies. Even if they are our inherited legacies they can be rewritten. This is an opportunity to rebalance and rewrite our inherited legacies.

To the members of the MASC, our kaumatua and members of all our communities, thank you for hearing this oral submission from TTW today; and our final words today are to Manukorihi and Otarua hapū “me kore rawa koe e taka – don’t ever give up – me kore rawa koutou e taka”.
No reira rau rangatira mā tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.

Acknowledgements & references: Waitangi Tribunal Report – Te Kaupapa Tuatahi, Sims Commission Report, Hansard report, Professor Linda Smith, Dr Ramona Beltran, Dr Leonie Pihama, Dr Mihi Ratima, Mereana Pitman, Dr Janice Wenn, Moana Jackson, Veronica Tawhai, Vivian Hutchinson, Kaimahi & Trustees TTW