When asked about the planned protest action at Parliament on the Oranga Tamariki uplifts of Māori children, acting Prime Minister Winston Peters – speaking personally about the issue - says that some criticisms against the state agency are unfair.
Three Māori babies had been killed since the incident where Oranga Tamariki workers attempted to uplift a baby at Hastings hospital in May, which Mr. Peters said was a “tragedy”.
"If you ask me personally what my view is let me say that three Māori children have been killed since this issue broke," he said at a post-Cabinet press conference in the Beehive yesterday.
“I don't see many headlines about that and that's a tragedy. If any of you understand Māoridom, you'll know there is some deep disquiet with respect to the treatment of women and children in particular,” the acting PM added.
"So let's not wipe our hands of this - and own up to the fact that if there's going to be a change, then there has to be a cultural renaissance in Māoridom itself as to its internal responsibilities to help fix this issue."
The issue of uplifting babies by Oranga Tamariki were heavily scrutinised after a video showing the incident at Hastings hospital was published online. That incident is now under an internal review by the agency.
Asked if he thought the system was fit for purpose, Mr. Peters said he did not.
"But it is a system we inherited and the system got to keep on working to improve. But having said that, let's not have this massive condemnation of a lot of people doing the very best they can for society in very, very difficult and sometimes dangerous circumstances."