Press Statement:

21 May 2024 

“Another stab in the back” Care experienced young people urge government against repeal of Treaty obligations from Oranga Tamariki Act.

As the repeal of section 7AA undergoes its first reading this afternoon in parliament, care experienced rangatahi are again asking the government not to turn its back on them. 

Children’s Minister Karen Chhour introduced her bill to repeal the section earlier this month, which requires the ministry to consider whakapapa and the Treaty of Waitangi when making decisions about children and young people in state care.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai has been advocating for care experienced tamariki since 2017, and CEO Tracie Shipton is disappointed that despite the Waitangi Tribunal finding that the move clearly breached the Treaty of Waitangi, policy makers are still pushing ahead. 

“The examples cited as reasons for repealing this legislation are down to poor practice, poor training, guidance and support rather than poor legislation.”

“The principles behind 7AA and good practice around its implementation are of benefit to all tamariki.”

VOYCE National Care Experienced Lead Tupua Urlich agrees, and says efforts to repeal section 7AA are another stab in the back. 

“I’m worried that the harm against Māori, which was highlighted in the abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry, will be repeated” 

“We know time and time again that children are placed with strangers who go on to physically, sexually and mentally abuse them. How about we focus the minister on legislation to prevent the state from removing kids from people who they know?”

Urlich says there was no effort to keep him connected with his Maori heritage after he was taken from his family as a child. 

“My early years with whanau were the best of my childhood. It was when I was ripped away from them that things took a turn, and I was abused by my caregiver who was a complete stranger.” 

His views are echoed by Jake Gibbons who also spent years in care. 

“My extended Māori whānau spent eleven years searching for me. I faced extreme hardship and disconnection and Oranga Tamariki never revealed my existence to my whānau.”

“I managed to reconnect without the help of Oranga Tamariki, and I wouldn’t want other care experienced young people to go through what I went through.”

Tracie Shipton says 7AA is a deliberate attempt to support Oranga Tamariki to address generations of systemic racism in the child care and protection system. 

“We urge our policy makers to tread very carefully and consider the evidence, as repealing 7AA takes out the only protection in the Oranga Tamariki Act.”

“This would be a huge step backwards for our tamariki.”

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For more information and for interview requests please contact VOYCE Head of Insights and Impact Gabriella Guy +64 21 605 226

OR Wilhelmina Shrimpton, VOYCE Media Liaison +64 21 711 697