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TAKEN BY THE STATE - Baby uplift case breached legal processes

Updated: Jun 11, 2019

Today Newsroom has launched a powerful new video story by investigations editor Melanie Reid into the attempted ‘uplift’ of a newborn baby from its mother at a maternity ward by the children’s agency Oranga Tamariki.

The pressure a young Māori mother is subjected to as she tries to keep her seven-day-old baby.

For the first time, the NZ Government process involved in taking a baby from its mother is laid bare. The case, which Newsroom has investigated and reported on has iwi leaders calling for a new national approach to resolve the high incidence of Māori parents losing their babies through Oranga Tamariki applications to the Family Court.

All those spoken to by Newsroom accepted intervention could be needed in cases where clear risks arose to a child's safety - but they argue there is strong whānau support for the mother and child in this case and similar examples exist of Oranga Tamariki refusing to revise its decisions to take children.

Three Māori babies a week are being 'uplifted' from their mothers and of 283 babies taken into care last year, more than 70 percent were Māori or Pasifika.

Increasingly, those aware of the level of removals of Māori babies are discussing the term 'Stolen Generation', reflecting the systematic policy in Australia of taking indigenous children from their communities.

The Newsroom documentary, which can be viewed from the link on this page, contains detailed footage from inside the mother's hospital room as officials repeatedly attempt to persuade her to give up the child. At one point Oranga Tamariki officials arrived at night after her whānau had left her alone with her week-old baby in the room and did not relent until a 2am intervention by a tribal leader and police commander. Janet Mason of Phoenix Law played a crucial role in acting for the family and preventing the authorities from removing the baby from its mother during the surreal ordeal.

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