Jean Te Huia

Ngāti Te Whatuiapiti
Ko Ngāti Kahungunu taku iwi
Kauahei te maunga
Tukituki te awa
Takitimu te waka.

Racially mixed marriages were uncommon in NZ in the early 1950’s when I was born. My father was a Pākehā, and my mother was Māori. My eight siblings and I had many cultural and ethnic challenges, as a result of the urban drift. We moved into the city, from our rural marae so our parents could work. Often too white for our brown cousins, and too brown for our white cousins, as racially mixed children we learned to adapt to our environment. My younger brothers were taken into state care as 12 yr olds and treated cruelly by the State. I left school and pursued a career in nursing and midwifery and have been working in the area of Maori health for over 40 yrs. I am the lead Waitangi Tribunal Claimant against Oranga Tamariki. I am in my third year of my PhD: 300 years of state sanctioned abuse of Aotearoa’s Indigenous children.

Indigenous children in state custody

"Canada, United States of America, Australia, and Aotearoa New Zealand have several factors in common. We all have a population of Indigenous peoples who are marginalised, exploited and ignored. We were all colonised by the British. As indigenous peoples we have all suffered the same fates and bear the same scars. Our traditional languages, family structures and cultural and religious beliefs have been, and continue to be deliberately eroded. Traditional birthing, health and wellbeing structures were attacked, destroyed, and renamed. Our children continue to be the subject of ongoing colonial policy that has become a multi-billion dollar growth industry in each country, for non-indigenous peoples and ensures intergenerational trauma for indigenous populations, which is ongoing, even today.

Colonial constructs of Indigenous children and families pervade the practices of child protection and detention intuitions. We argue that such constructs inform a carceral logic that underpin the state’s interventions across the settler colonies of Aotearoa, Australia, the US and Canada. This contributes to high levels of child removals from families in the child protection system and the incarceration of Indigenous children in youth detention. We call for a radical response that decolonises the deficit discourses towards Indigenous children and displaces state institutions with self-determination and sovereignty."

Jean Te Huia