Iwi leaders back covenant for Children

updated By Ripeka Timutimu

Iwi leaders are calling on the government to support a covenant protecting the rights of children here in NZ. Ngāti Hine leader Te Waihoroi Shortland says the government has given them the cold shoulder over the issue.

Moko Rangitoheriri died a grisly death at the hands of his caregivers. Shortland says a covenant for children could protect others from the same fate.

“This is a covenant. What kind of people would we be if we didn't support the needs of our children, that's the issue for us as Māori.”

It's understood a proposal for a covenant for children was tabled to PM John Key, Minster of Social Development Anne Tolley and Minister of Treaty Negotiations Chris Finlayson.

Shortland says, “The government didn't support the covenant. I think it's because they have their own plans regarding the wellbeing of children, they've given us the cold shoulder on this one.”

These faces are now the poster children for child abuse, and Professor Makere Mutu believes the government doesn't care about children like them.

“This government is for the wealthy, they say don't worry about those children, they are the children of the poor, they aren't ours”, says Prof Mutu.

“In the weeks just gone another one of our children died. I can see the hurt and the shame that we all feel, because if that happens to one of our children it affects us all. If it happens to a Pākehā child, it's only their family that's affected”, says Shortland.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley gave the following statement to Te Kāea.

"I’ve met with Judge Henwood and I am looking for ways to incorporate her work into the new work plan for overhauling CYF and the new model for care and protection, rather than as a constitutional covenant."