Time to Taihoa

The Centre’s position on the Government’s proposed changes to the oversight of Oranga Tamariki and the Children’s Commissioner


The Government has disregarded both te Tiriti o Waitangi (te Tiriti) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Indigenous Declaration) in the process it followed to develop the Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System and Children and Young People’s Commission Bill (the Bill) and in drafting its substantive provisions.

In short, we are of the view that the Bill fails to recognise:

  • the Tiriti guarantee of Māori tino rangatiratanga over kāinga; and
  • on issues of shared concern or which require co-governance between Māori and the Crown, the right of Māori to participate in decision-making in a manner that reflects the Tiriti partnership. On matters of especial significance, this includes the obligation to obtain Māori consent to legislative or administrative measures that affect us.

There was a key opportunity – and responsibility – during the Bill’s Select Committee stage to address these issues, which were also raised by submitters, and strengthen the Bill to better reflect the guarantees and rights under te Tiriti and the Indigenous Declaration. The Select Committee failed to adequately address these concerns during its consideration of the Bill, however, and recently reported the Bill back to the House with no significant changes from a Tiriti or Indigenous Declaration perspective.

The Select Committee also failed to address other key concerns raised by submitters, the vast majority of whom strongly oppose the Bill. A minority of Select Committee members from the Green, ACT and National parties also opposed the Bill’s progression, highlighting the overwhelming number of submitters against it, and called for its withdrawal. The Select Committee’s majority decision to report back a largely unaltered bill in the face of this significant public and political opposition has attracted widespread criticism.

We call on the Government to taihoa on the Bill and engage with Māori in a way that recognises our status as Tiriti partner, our rangatiratanga over the care and protection of tamariki Māori and our rights under the Indigenous Declaration.

Read the Time to Taihoa paper.