Foster care must remain whānau first - Marama Fox

By Heta Gardiner
  • Auckland

Māori Party MP Marama Fox says that a provision in the Children, Young Persons and their Families legislation Bill is a priority to address and more important to them then the Kermadecs.

The provision takes away the obligation of the state to look at placing Māori children in foster care with their whānau first.

It is an issue that has divided parliament. But the Māori Party is clear on their position on the Children, Young persons and Their Families Legislation Bill.

The Māori Party's main objection to the bill, is a provision that takes away the obligation of the state to look at placing Māori children in foster care with their own Māori whānau first.

And their stance found support from the Green Party.

Metiria Turei says, “The fundamental provision in this bill in the deliberate intention to remove Māori children from Māori whānau for good! It is an assimilationist policy!”

But National found support from that provision from an opposition party.

Darroch Ball of NZ First says, “Grew up in a foster family with Pākehā parents. Not because he was forced there but because Pākehā families were the ones that wanted to stand up and look after him, that's why. If the tangata whenua are so keen on looking after their children, why aren't they doing that now.”

Minister Anne Tolley says that the goal of this bill, is to bring the focus squarely on the children.  

“The bill makes changes to the purposes and the principles of the act, to imbed a truly child centric approach and ensure children's and young people's participation.”

The second reading will follow select committee hearings in the new year.