Saturday, March 13, 2010

Maori adoption and parallel worlds

The following is from a letter to me from the Ministry of Social Development. It clarifies the difference between adoption in the Maori and non-Maori world. I suspect that quite a number of Maori babies are 'adopted' out (whangai) but there are no statistics available. I suspect that most Maori babies born to unpartnered or young Maori are supported by welfare but cannot confirm this because MSD says it does not record the relationship status between the person receiving the benefit and the dependent child who provides eligibility. And the ethnicity of the child is not recorded, only the ethnicity of the caregiver. I have written previously about the potential for the exploitation of children in this respect.

Anyway, another brick wall hit, but some of you may nevertheless be interested in the different processes.


bez said...

Based on this information, I'd guess WINZ should have the information you're really after, i.e. who is in fact paying for the child. (My guess would be the taxpayer in virtually all situations, hence WINZ)
What also becomes apparent is that there is NO determination whether this 'whangai' is actually in the child's best interest. In other words, under NZ law the practice is prima facie illegal, and there is an arguable case that any agency (including WINZ) has a legal obligation under Care of Children Act to ensure that the paramount principle is abided by. Not acting on that obligation is a clear breach of the Act, and hence an agency deciding on handing out out a welfare benefit without assessing the merits of the 'whangai' is acting contrary to NZ law.

ZenTiger said...

Very interesting points Lindsay and Bez.

Anonymous said...


Are you implying that whangai children are only whangaied to get a benefit from WINZ? Please explain.

I know plenty of children that have been whangaied & all the parents that whangaied them all work.
I myself have a whangai child & my husband & I both work & provide for our child.

I believe a child who is adopted the European legal system way is not necessarily better off than a child who is whangaied the Maori legal way.

If I have misunderstood your comment that I apologise, but in no way does the article above even mention WINZ so I don't know how you came to that conclusion.

If I have misunderstood your comment then I apologise.

Jen said...


Im a European mum of three and my oldest child who is four years old is raised by his grandparents who live around the corner from us. We see him on a daily basis and he is part of both families. Although i'm european, my ex was part Maori and we decided when i was working nights, and him days, to let our son live with his grandparents for his own stability and routine. It evolved from there. It has since become an amazing experience and my son has the best of all worlds, and it shows as hes ahead of the rest of the class, confident and secure in himself and his opinions because he has him whole family behind him backing him all the way.

At no time have we ever claimed any benefit, and neither has his grandparents. Its all done informally. Because its not a legal thing, done through the european system, it means we are free to adjust the situation and change it to what best suits the child.

There is room for abuse in ANY welfare situation - but yeah - not everyone uses the practice to rip the government.

Some of us actually embrace the whole "village to raise a child" idea, and it works for us.