Former minister defends Oranga Tamariki as protest organisers explain push behind today's hikoi

The organisers of a nationwide hikoi today against the uplift of Māori children by Oranga Tamariki say it's time for Māori to take control of their own tamariki.

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Anne Tolley defended the changes that were made under her leadership. Source: Breakfast

A video which emerged in June showing the uplift of a newborn from its mother at a maternity ward has prompted a widespread discussion about how to achieve the best outcomes for Māori children who are uplifted by the state.

The Hands Off Our Tamariki movement was born, and a hikoi will be held today to Parliament in Wellington, as well as in other parts of the country.

This morning on TVNZ1's Breakfast programme, the former minister responsible for the creation of Oranga Tamariki, Anne Tolley, fronted up to talk about the changes she made, and whether or not they have been successful.

"Oranga Tamariki was created so that it could not only deal with a crisis, but it could actually work to prevent children from needing to come into state care," Ms Tolley said.

Ms Tolley said taking a child away from its family was "the absolute last resort".

For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

The overhaul of Oranga Tamariki - previously known as Child Youth and Family - "was always going to take a long time".

"I kept saying this is not a quick fix," Ms Tolley said. "This was a four- or five-year overhaul of a process that hasn't worked for anyone - it hadn't worked for the children and it hadn't worked for the family of those children.

"On the one hand, yes, we want our children to remain with their families - that's the best place for them - but on the other hand the state does have a responsibility to those children to keep them safe, and that's always going to be a point of conflict."

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Te Kōtahi Institute's Leonie Pihama and Laura O'Connell Rapira of ActionStation talk to Breakfast. Source: Breakfast

Te Kōtahi Institute's Leonie Pihama and Laura O'Connell Rapira of ActionStation also appeared on the programme today to talk about the reasons behind the hikoi, and what Māori are asking for.

Ms Pihama said that "the state has done this for over 200 years very badly and continue to do it in a very punitive and destructive way".

"It's time now to hand it over to Māori - to whānau, hapu and iwi Māori organisations - and Whānau Ora to take control of the wellbeing of our whānau and our tamariki."

Marchers are expected to gather at the Parliament grounds early this afternoon.

Watch the full interviews above.