National | Ministry For Children

New campaign to improve state childcare system

The New Zealand Māori Council has launched an online campaign today unveiling challenges and change they believe need to occur to improve the nation’s childcare system.

Executive Director of the Māori Council, Matthew Tukaki says the campaign will focus on what whānau need to do when it comes to the safety and protection of children.

"We started this campaign to say, look, be mindful. Your children hear everything that goes on in that house. They might be in the next room. They might think that the wall is separating them but they can hear it... And we've got to remember that often children become the substance of the operating environment through which they grow up in, says Tukaki.

"So my message to all parents, no matter who they are, where across the country they are, what ethnic group they come from, is be mindful of what your children can hear."

Campaign poster. Source: New Zealand Māori Council

As part of the campaign, the council has created posters with key messages on ending violence around children.

Tukaki says more than 70 percent of children in state care are Māori.

"More than 80 percent of children in the juvenile and youth justice arena are Māori and we are overrepresented in the adult prison population, he says.

“What we need are not only honest conversations of the sustained failure of the system.  We also need to do more as Māori to protect our children from harm and much of that needs to start in our homes and communities."

New provisions in the Oranga Tamariki Act will come into force on July 1, 2019. Source: File

Over the next few weeks and months, the Māori Council will launch resources around awareness, what to look out for and people’s rights when it comes to the childcare system, says Tutaki.

He says the campaign is a precursor to the introduction of new provisions in the Oranga Tamariki Act which will require Oranga Tamariki to work more closely with whānau. The act comes into force on July 1, 2019.

“I am also conscious that we need real leadership when it comes to the challenges facing whānau and our tamariki and the New Zealand Māori Council won’t shy away from leading those bold conversations, holding the system to account and supporting our people,” says Tukaki.

The council also plans to start a campaign addressing housing and housing affordability, suicide prevention and tackling the meth epidemic.