Is Oranga Tamariki's newborn uplift process warranted?

The AM Show 13/06/2019

The AM Show host Duncan Garner was forced to mediate as his guests butted heads in a fiery debate on Thursday morning.

Parenting Place contributor Petra Bagust and Magic Talk Drive Host Ryan Bridge were discussing Newsroom's investigation into Oranga Tamariki's uplift process for babies they believe are in danger.

The site released footage of one attempted uplift, in which a young Māori mother was isolated from her midwife and whanāu late at night so Oranga Tamariki could try and take her baby. Oranga Tamariki gave up after hours of standoff. The case is now before the courts.

Bagust and Bridge did not see eye-to-eye on the case.

"The power of the state in this situation against the mother, her whanāu and her tamariki, her baby, it's two forces that are completely out of whack and Oranga Tamariki are trying to do the right thing," said Bagust.

How they're doing it isn't working.

"I think listening is the key - I think we need Oranga Tamariki to employ more Māori at a management level."

But Bridge didn't agree, and said the uplift process was warranted.

"It was a court order here - they don't hand out court orders to uplift babies like bus tickets. I have been given information about a couple of these cases, and I back the state to uplift a baby in cases where they think the child is at serious risk in the home."

He agreed the process shown was shocking, but that was where his agreement with Bagust ended.

The process wasn't perfect.

"But I still think at some point if the mother and the whanau are closing ranks and not letting the baby go, what are [Oranga Tamariki] supposed to do?" he said.

"I think Māori have the answers for Māori," Bagust rebutted. 

"They are in this situation because of a system that does not work for them. So if they had an agreement that this mother would go to the whare with her baby, under the care of Oranga Tamariki then they should stick to that. Give this whanau a chance."

Ryan makes the point that it's ther esponsibilty of the state to protect the baby and if these uplifts didn't happen we would be reading a much more upsetting nes story about a childs death or injury.

Imagine if something had happened to that baby.

"Something is happening to that baby - that baby is being taken from its parents!" she bit back.

At this point Garner stepped in to get the conversation back on track.

"They're damned if they do, damned if they don't. I just wonder if there's somewhere in the middle that's a compromise, where someone in the family takes a leadership role and engages with the state."

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Vita Molyneux