Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says there's more work to be done to improve Oranga Tamariki's relationship with Māori, after a report released today by Whānau Ora called out the Government agency for "abuse of power and racial profiling".
The 200-page report detailed armed police and police dogs involved in uplifts of hundreds of babies over six months.
Dame Naida Glavish, who chaired the governance group overseeing the Māori review, said the report confirmed "systemic failure, discrimination and inexplicable breaches of human rights towards Māori". About 65 per cent of children uplifted and taken into state care are Māori.
"I'm not going to stand here and claim that we have perfection with our agencies," Ms Ardern told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning
But she added that wonderful people work for the agency and progress had been made.
"We have put a huge boost into the support for the organisation so that they can start doing things differently.
"We know that there is more that we need to do to make sure that we're working particularly alongside Māori because that is where we see that disproportionate number of children that Oranga Tamariki are working with.
"If the result of this report is we keep working to improve the work that we do with whānau then that ultimately has to be our aim."
Ms Ardern also pointed out work the Government had done to lift Māori, including reduced Māori unemployment, placing more young Māori in apprenticeships and lifted Māori representation in district health boards to now represent the Māori population.
"These are things that we can physically show, but it's how we do things and I think it's only fair that Māori are saying of course we want to see those partnerships, we want to see us working together, and those are all areas that we know there is more work for us to do and we're very open about that.
"We know that we've got progress that needs to be made and it is a matter of continuing to work together."
However, later on Breakfast, Lady Tureiti Moxon - who is a lawyer and worked on the Waitangi Tribunal, the National Urban Maori Authority and with the Kohanga Reo Movement - said "the Government continues to fail us right across the board".
Lady Moxon said families were "being treated like terrorists", with many babies uplifted from their whānau without any knowledge of anything wrong.
"They come by sleuth in the night and they just uplift and basically this is theft. They're stealing our children from their beds. They're stealing our children from the breasts of their mothers. They're stealing our children from their own whānau, from their hapū and from our iwi."
Lady Moxon also called out the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Act as "one of the most racist, violent and cruel pieces of legislation that we have in this country".
The law intends for babies to be uplifted to protect them if there is concern for their wellbeing, but Lady Moxon said young mums were being prosecuted just for being young mums.
"There's no support," she said.
"Fixing a broken system isn't the answer, and fixing a racist system isn't the answer. The answer lies within the people.
"We need to gather together Māori and bring together the solution," Lady Moxon said. "The solution lies with us and the Crown has to give up power over Māori, they have to. They have to work together with us.
"A partnership means that we will work together and we will share resources and we will share power, and until they do that it's always going to be a master-servant relationship."