Relationship between tangata whenua and the Crown
Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Māori text) was first signed on 6 February 1840 and, after travelling around the country, had been signed by over 500 rangatira by the end of that year. The Treaty of Waitangi (the English text) was only signed at Manukau and Waikato Heads by 39 rangatira.
Key differences between the texts led to varying interpretations and shades of meaning. Both texts reflect different worldviews, and therefore different economic, cultural, social and political understandings and priorities.
It is essential that all Oranga Tamariki kaimahi recognise that the tensions, fear and mistrust in today’s society that exist between Tangata Whenua and the Crown (through the New Zealand Government and its agencies) stem from the fundamental, historic and continued breaches of te Tiriti (the Treaty) and, therefore, the aspirations and understandings of Tangata Whenua.
Principles of te Tiriti (the Treaty)
Through the New Zealand courts and the Waitangi Tribunal, principles setting out the intent of te Tiriti (the Treaty) have evolved following decades of jurisprudence:
- Partnership: Both the Crown and Māori have a positive duty to act in good faith, fairly, reasonably, and honourably towards each other.
- Active protection: The Crown has a positive duty to protect Māori property interests and taonga.
- Redress: Past wrongs give rise to a right of redress.
These principles aim to address inequitable power relationships to fully address tamariki/mokopuna and whānau wellbeing, and have, over time, become much more important than the precise terms of te Tiriti (the Treaty).
In He Pāharakeke, He Rito Whakakīkinga Whāruarua: Oranga Tamariki Urgent Inquiry (2021), the Waitangi Tribunal expanded on tino rangatiratanga over kāinga as an element of the principles of partnership and active protection. This is 'a guarantee of the right to continue to organise and live as Māori... to care for and raise the next generation' (page xiii), which we need to carefully balance with our responsibility to provide a care and protection system for tamariki/mokopuna.
Our organisational and professional obligations
As a Crown agency, we are obliged to practise all principles of te Tiriti (the Treaty) to ensure the wellbeing and tino rangatiratanga of whānau, hapū and iwi.
Combined with Te Ao Māori wellbeing principles found in Te Toka Tūmoana, section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 and mana-enhancing practice, te Tiriti o Waitangi principles in the context of Oranga Tamariki are about promoting, upholding and practising in ways that acknowledge the rights of tamariki/mokopuna, whānau, hapū and iwi.
At an individual level, we also hold professional obligations, such as the requirements set out by the Social Workers Registration Board, the core component of ‘principled practice’ of the mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, the practice framework domain of ngākau whakairo, the Oranga Tamariki (Residential Care) Regulations 1996, and the Oranga Tamariki code of conduct.