Oranga Tamariki axes specialist Māori roles, weakens commitment to Te Ao Māori

The PSA is shocked that Oranga Tamariki has used the cost cutting drive to downgrade its commitment to Te Ao Māori and remove many specialist Māori roles.

“This is simply irresponsible and reckless,” said Janice Panoho Te Kaihautū Māori for the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi.

“How can it be that an organisation charged with supporting vulnerable rangatahi and tamariki, many of whom are Māori, would think now is the right time to remove specialist roles?”

21 specialist roles are proposed to be axed as part of the wider restructure of Oranga Tamariki where 632 roles are being disestablished, the net change reduction is 447 roles that may go (see list of Māori specialist roles proposed to go below).

The Oranga Tamariki consultation document states that ‘our approach to Te Ao Māori has now reached a state of maturity that means we can move to the next stage of cultural capability development’.

“It’s simply wrong to claim that Oranga Tamariki has reached a ‘state of maturity’ in Te Ao Māori.

“Cultural capability is all about learning how to respect cultures and knowing how to behave appropriately. It’s not necessarily an end point but a continued process of improvement. This should be standard practice and built into an organisation through continual training and development for new and existing staff so they keep improving how they deliver their work.

“However, the consultation document provides scant evidence or explanation that the improvement is well embedded and that now is the right time to rely less on the Māori Specialist roles. How can it be with some two thirds of rangatahi and tamariki in care being Māori?”

“Māori specialist roles are fundamental to improving cultural capability in te reo Māori, tikanga Māori and te ao Māori, providing support and guidance to kaimahi Māori and kaimahi non-Māori, building and maintaining relationships with iwi, hapū and whānau, ensuring the voices of Māori are heard, and ultimately working towards achieving better outcomes for tamariki, rangatahi and whānau.

“The mana, matauranga Māori, experience and skills that all kaimahi Māori in these roles bring should be valued by Oranga Tamariki and not simply done away with.

“The ripple effect of slashing an already small group of Māori specialist roles will be felt throughout the organisation, will impact on workload and ultimately impact on tamariki, rangatahi and whānau,” said Janice Panoho.

/Public Release. View in full here.