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Guardianship orders threat to whakapapa

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Māori lawyers are sounding a warning about a law that allows state caregivers to become special guardians of a child and control access to their parents.

They say special guardianship orders are in conflict with new legislation requiring Oranga Tamariki to protect a child's connection to their whānau.

Kirikiriroa lawyer Kiriana Tan says the orders were part of the 2016 changes to the child welfare law and were designed to strengthen the rights of caregivers.

But they become like adoption, where the parents are not able to come back and revisit access arrangements or custody if their situation improves.

"What you have is the easier pathway doesn't actually look at the behaviour of the parents once the children have been uplifted. Then it's just about providing safety and security. The risk there is that those children, particularly if they are non-whānau placements, are not able to reconnect with their whānau," Ms Tan says.

The bulk of the 143 special guardianship orders granted over the past three years have been for tamariki Māori.


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