- This week the New Zealand Police published a report entitled Police Statistics on Homicide Victims in New Zealand 2007 – 2017: Summary of Statistics about Victims of Murder, Manslaughter, and Infanticide. The report showed from 2007 to the end of 2017, 236 Māori were victims of homicide, which was 32% of all victims (737 in total). Māori males comprised 22% (163) of all victims and 69% of the total number of Māori victims. These statistics are a sad over-representation, given Māori comprise only 15% of the total population. https://www.police.govt.nz/sites/default/files/publications/homicide-victims-report-2018.pdf
- Yesterday the Waitangi Tribunal commenced two days of oral hearings into WAI 2915, which is the urgent inquiry regarding tamariki Māori being placed into State care. As presiding Judge Michael Doogan indicated, the claim is about why there have been consistent disparities of tamariki Māori being removed from their whānau by the State, to what extent legislative improvements have been made, and what further requirements are required of the Crown to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Amongst other respected claimants, Lady Tureiti Moxon spoke indicating that Treaty partnership requires Oranga Tamariki devolving its powers and funding to Māori entities, based partially on the view (which is consistent across claimants) that the Ministry of Social Development and Oranga Tamariki have proven to be not capable of meeting the needs of tamariki Māori.
Also yesterday, Oranga Tamariki released a report entitled ‘Improving outcomes for tamariki Māori, their whānau, hapū and iwi’. We will review this report in full next week but in our initial considerations, however, it’s hard to believe that the timing of its release was fortuitous or accidental. Essentially our view is that the timing is a combative ‘talking over top of’ rangatira, such as Lady Moxon. Quite why Oranga Tamariki has taken such an approach is beyond us: it would seem like this is a week the agency might be best to humbly listen to Māori voices regarding the harm, hurt and whakamā that exists in this area (which is why we have deferred our review of their report).
Unfortunately this battle-hardened approach of Oranga Tamariki continues to present as entrenched, and is consistent with their rude reply to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner last month, and ruder still (no) reply given to the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency (Pānui 21/2020 refers). In short, while Oranga Tamariki perhaps have one of the most difficult tasks of all Crown agencies, that is not an excuse for misunderstanding the authority and mana of the Waitangi Tribunal and its hearing processes.
- This week the Minister for Treaty of Watangi Negotiations, Andrew Little, confirmed he would not progress with Treaty Settlement legislation for Mana Ahuriri Trust until the grouping held renewed Trustee elections – which the group has so far refused to do, despite receiving over $300,000 for that purpose.
[The backdrop here is that the Crown had reached a Treaty settlement with Mana Ahuriri, which includes financial redress of circa $19.5 million; and legislation to conclude the matter has already had a first reading in Parliament, and is currently before Select Committee. However, late last year the Waitangi Tribunal found that the Crown had breached the Treaty in accepting a flawed ratification vote for the Ahuriri Hapū Deed of Settlement, and therefore in relation to the mandate of the post-governance entity – i.e. Mana Ahuriri Trust. (So despite the problems with ratification the Crown decided wrongly to push ahead anyway.) To remedy this, the Tribunal recommended the Crown obtain an undertaking from the Mana Ahuriri Trust to hold elections (which are to be independently monitored) for all trustees, before progressing settlement legislation. Plus, the Crown should pay for it all – hence the provision of a further funds to the Trust for renewed elections. Minister Little is of the view he obtained an agreement from the Trust for elections, and references an email he received – although of course an email is not the same as a Trust resolution, and the Minister and his officials should know that. The challenge here then is that the Crown cannot force new elections.]
 The report is about how the agency fulfils section 7AA of its legislation, and is thus sometimes referred to as the ‘7AA report’ – essentially it sets out what they do and plan to do for tamariki Māori