Judge Andrew Becroft says the latest statistics to come out of Oranga Tamariki are "utterly unacceptable" and "things have to change".
Speaking to 1 NEWS today, the Children’s Commissioner pulled no punches on his thoughts about the latest figures to emerge from the under-fire agency.
Oranga Tamariki today released its third Safety of Children in Care report, which revealed that in the first quarter of this year, from January to March, 103 children were harmed in state care - up from 97 the previous quarter.
Seventy-six per cent of children harmed in this period were Tamariki Māori. Harm is defined as neglect, emotional abuse, physical and sexual abuse.
Judge Becroft says it’s an ongoing trend.
"If the state intervenes to remove a child or young person from their family because of abuse or neglect, it can’t happen again. Least of all in state care. Period. Non-negotiable. Full stop. It cannot happen and things have to change," he said.
"If the numbers don’t change in the next report or the report after that, there needs to be tough questions asked about how effective the support and assistance for wider family and care actually is," he reiterated.
"I think the public need to know and be quite clear that Oranga Tamariki will be taking decisive steps, and that’s what we need to know. No child in care should ever be subject to abuse or neglect."
Hoani Lambert, deputy chief executive for Voices of Children at Oranga Tamariki, says the agency is releasing the information to be open, transparent and to learn from it.
"As an organisation, Oranga Tamariki has begun to make improvements in how we support children in care, their whānau and caregivers," Mr Lambert said. "However, this report shows that we have more work to do."