Beleaguered Oranga Tamariki chief executive Grainne Moss resigns

Oranga Tamariki chief executive Grainne Moss has resigned. 

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The ministry was investigated for its controversial role in uplifting Māori babies. Source: 1 NEWS

In a statement, Moss said it had "been a privilege to lead the Ministry for over four years through a time of significant transformation, challenge and change".

"However, I believe it is the right time for the agency for me to step down and make way for new leadership. I feel the focus has been on me rather than how we work together to improve the well-being of children."

It comes after Moss faced pressure to step down last year over Oranga Tamariki's treatment of Māori. Among those calling for her resignation were former Māori Party leader Dame Tariana Turia.

Moss appeared before the Waitangi Tribunal in November last year. She said at the time the Crown "should have identified the need to tackle structural racism head-on in the establishment of Oranga Tamariki" and the agency had failed to implement the recommendations of the racism report Puao-te-Ata-tu from 1988.

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Grainne Moss became emotional as she made the admission before the Waitangi Tribunal. Source: 1 NEWS

Also last year, a report by Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft showed in 2019, Māori babies were five times more likely to be placed in state custody than non-Māori. Moss said Oranga Tamariki had halved the number of Māori baby uplifts since 2017. 

Five inquiries were also launched in 2019 after footage of a Hawke’s Bay incident was released where Oranga Tamariki social workers repeatedly tried to uplift a baby from hospital to the objection of the mother, her family and the midwife involved.

Also last November, Moss dismissed speculation that she was resigning, saying she was "absolutely committed to the kaupapa, and we've made really good progress".

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Merepeka Raukawa-Tait says Gráinne Moss shouldn’t have been appointed in the first place. Source: Breakfast

Sir Wira Gardiner has been appointed as Acting Chief Executive. Sir Wira was the founding director of the Waitangi Tribunal.

Moss will lead the Public Service’s pay equity work from April 12. 

Moss' resignation was welcomed by the Māori Party and the Green Party. 

Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said that given she "acknowledged the continued failings and systemic racism on her watch, Grainne Moss tendering her resignation was the only right thing to do". 

Jan Logie of the Greens said it was critical Oranga Tamariki should be Māori-led.

"Grainne had lost the confidence of the community, particularly Māori. Her resignation now paves the way for this Māori leadership."

Former deputy chief executive of Oranga Tamariki Hoani Lambert left his role last year after taking up a new job in Department of Internal Affairs, but told Breakfast last year he had confidence in Moss. 

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