Rather than accusing Oranga Tamariki of institutional racism, Winston Peters says Māoridom must address issues of abuse towards children and women instead.
During a New Zealand First public meeting in Tauranga, Mr. Peters addressed calls for an end to the uplift of Māori children from their families by Oranga Tamariki.
The topic of uplifts has been in the spotlight since Newsroom released a video investigation in June showing Oranga Tamariki officials attempting to take a young Māori baby away from her family out of concern for the child's safety.
"Oranga Tamariki is being accused of institutional racism for uplifting Māori children from their parents. Social workers are being harassed and threatened," Mr. Peters said.
While “the odd [uplift] went wrong”, in general Māori children aren't just randomly pulled from their families.
"The facts are that these children are being uplifted because they face perilous dangerous situations. There should be no apologies when Oranga Tamariki uplifts a child from an abusive, dangerous or otherwise neglectful environment," Mr. Peters said to applause from the crowd.
More money has been allocated into Oranga Tamariki recently by the Coalition Government, which covers early intervention services to put support around families and their newborns. New care standards have also been introduced, while partnerships between the agency and numerous iwi are being established.
The NZ First party leader said that if Māori want their children to not be uplifted, they should take their "responsibilities to protect these children seriously".
"Māoridom, as we all know, needs a renaissance of thinking, to change, and change for the better."
"We make it clear that department will not stop uplifting children if there is a continued danger to those children and that continued danger,” Mr. Peters said.