In 2017, the Ministry for Children was changed by the government. It was called CYFS, Child, Youth and Family Services. It became an organisation called Oranga Tamariki, which means Child Wellbeing in Maori.
Until now, Oranga Tamariki has not been in the news very much. Most stories have been about many children needing help, and Oranga Tamariki not having enough workers to help them.
But this week it has come to light that Oranga Tamariki has been taking new-born babies away from their mothers. They say this is because the families have some history of violence or other problems.
There is widespread anger about this for a few reasons. The first reason is that the procedure for Oranga Tamariki to get permission to take the babies is unfair. Oranga Tamariki has to get permission from a judge, but the families involved do not get a chance to talk to the judge about their situation. Sometimes, Oranga Tamariki’s evidence may not be accurate.
The other problem is that 70% if the babies being taken are Maori or Pasifika, so people worry that this could be connected to racism.
This came to a head last week when police tried to take a baby from Hawkes Bay hospital. Oranga Tamariki had already taken another new-born baby from the same mother last year, even though she had no criminal record. This time the family, a lawyer and two midwives stopped the police and Oranga Tamariki from taking the baby away. Oranga Tamariki said the family had problems with domestic violence, but the family says that this is not true.