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300 at Cenotaph in protest against policies of Oranga Tamariki

cenotaph-protest
RNZ photo

Report from RNZ
More than 300 people were at the Cenotaph in Wellington at lunchtime today calling for Oranga Tamariki to stop taking children from their families.

The Hands Off Our Tamariki Network handed an open letter to Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson at Parliament this afternoon demanding the State stop removing Māori from whānau.

Speakers at the protest told the crowd Māori should be the ones caring for their children, and the state must leave their mokopuna alone.

Sarah Taiapa said she cannot believe that children are still being taken by the state in 2019. She said to preserve the Māori culture, tamariki must be kept with whānau.

“This here is raising the awareness and physically getting the people together to face the problem face-to-face.

“Just to show that we are here, we care, this is a problem, as something does need to be done about it.”

Sheilagh Walker, of Ngā Puhi, came down down from Whangārei to be at the protest. She said it was time for a change, and the prime minister and politicians needed to step up and do something.

“Our prime minister really needs to realise, no disrespect to her – yes she supported the Muslim community – but hey, right here in Aotearoa [for] tangata whenua … the theft of our tamariki and whakapapa is a priority.”

Acting Prime Minister Kelvin Davis said just like the video of the Christchurch terror attack, he’s never watched the video of an attempted removal of a Māori child from its mother. Mr Davis said he did not need to watch either video to know something terrible had happened.

“I don’t need to watch it to know that something terrible happened, just like I haven’t seen the 15 March video to know that something terrible happened there. We know what the situation is.”

Mr Davis spoke to the large group at Parliament. He said his message is that there are too many Māori tamariki in care and too many dying but he accepts children do need to be removed from their parents when they are at risk.

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