Marama Davidson, Green Party Co-leader, today met with VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, having an engaging and heartfelt discussion with two of the young people behind the 6 PROMISES for 6000 – Tupua Urlich and Fatima Abdallah. Marama let the organisation know that she is particularly heartbroken by the generational trauma that has happened at the hands of the state, “In my life and career, it has always been, and will continue to be a priority for me, to do everything we can to resource the care and support that is needed for all families and all parents to keep all children safe.”

Fatima spoke passionately about her own care experience and how a lot of what she went through would not have happened if the system actually worked as it should. Tupua said, “So often we aren’t seen as young people, we are just numbers in the system.” He further appealed, “If any piece of paper comes across your desk that does not speak to these 6 promises, please do not support it. For the sake of the 6000 plus young people that are relying on our leaders to provide them with a system that nurtures them, that keeps them safe, that shows them what love is – if it speaks to these 6 promises, then please get behind it.”

Marama responded by saying that she wished Tupua could look every politician in the eye and say that to them. She welcomed the critical insight provided by the lived experience of the young people behind these promises and the collective action of people everywhere getting behind the petition. “We must make it politically unacceptable for anyone in power to accept anything less than these 6 promises.” She encouraged the young people, “You should feel entitled to challenge those in power because what you are doing is holding us to account on behalf of the 6000 plus children in state care.”

It was a genuine honour for VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai to meet with such a kindred spirit and superb humanitarian. We ❤️ Marama Davidson!

Marama met with VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai after a personal letter of appeal was sent by some of the young people behind this petition. The full wording of their message to her is below:

“Tēnā kōrua Marama Davidson and James Shaw, 

As representatives of the 6,000+ care experienced youth in New Zealand, we are asking you to make six promises to us. These are promises to provide things everyone must agree, we believe, that a parent should provide for their children. 

Like everyone else, we want to achieve and succeed, but we face unique challenges that can prevent us from reaching our full potential. While we acknowledge that the Government has started to pay more attention to our stories and to make changes to try to solve these problems, children and youth in care still face significant and ongoing barriers to success. We are asking you to listen to us again and continue this progress by considering how you could implement these promises whenever any new piece of legislation or policy crosses your desk. 

The first promise that we ask of you is to honour your duty of parental care to us. To feel safe and secure we need to know there is someone committed to our long-term wellbeing, and to feel valued we need to know that we are worth somebody making this commitment to us. While party leaders cannot individually provide love and affection to 6000+ children and youth, you can fulfil this commitment by creating policies and programmes that show us love and help us succeed, and the other five promises tell you how you can do this. 

We ask you to ensure we have stability because right now we so often move from place to place, from family to family, from school to school, without getting a chance to develop deep relationships. Children and youth cannot easily build resilience, or a real sense of confidence, when we cannot even predict for sure where we will be next month, but when we have people we can trust and rely on, we can. 

We ask you to ensure we have the support we need to meet our educational goals and aspirations, because like everyone we need someone to encourage us to strive to be the best we can be. No matter what our goals are it is always easier to succeed if we have the chance to get the skills and knowledge we need, and the assistance required to take this chance. 

We ask you to ensure we have timely access to health care when we need it. Too many youth in care are known or suspected to have mental health needs or a disability, and yet we often come to the end of our time in care and still have not been assessed or received access to the health services we need. A parent should be someone who is there to look out to see if their child is having their basic needs met, and many of us need this, more than most, to avoid harmful consequences for our long-term wellbeing. 

We ask you to make sure we have a say in all decisions made about us while we are in care, because so often we feel like everybody else is in control of our situation. While we know we can’t always get what we want, sometimes we do know better than the adults around us what is best for us, and we need to feel that we have been heard and that our thoughts matter. 

We ask you to support us to grow our own sense of identity, by making sure we can connect with our whakapapa, culture, religion, or language, and develop an understanding of our gender identity, sexual orientation or anything else which makes us who we are. In unpredictable, unfamiliar and often isolating situations we can use this to have a sense of belonging and derive strength from what makes us unique. However, we need someone to make a conscious effort to ensure we get the chance to develop, nurture and grow this in the first place. 

Nobody can succeed by themselves, and yet so often we expect care experienced people to do exactly that. In reality, young people usually have a parent to provide them with so many things to support them before they transition into adulthood and many years after. For those of us in care, you are that parent, and we have some ideas about what changes can be made to make sure you can support us in the same way. That is why we would like to ask you to commit to meeting with members of the VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai National Youth Council to talk about these promises and how you can deliver on them. We look forward to hearing back from you soon. 

Nāku iti noa, nā (Yours sincerely)

Fatima, Isaac, and Reihana, on behalf of the 6000+ children and young people in care

VOYCE Whakarongo Mai National Youth Council”