Oranga Tamariki has been asked to carry out an internal investigation into an uplift after officials failed to satisfy the Children’s Minister’s demands for an explanation

Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis has ordered Oranga Tamariki to conduct a formal case review of the uplift documented in a Newsroom investigation, after officials gave him unsatisfactory explanations for the actions displayed. 

News of the ministerial demand comes after a High Court judge ordered Newsroom to remove a video documentary on Oranga Tamariki social workers removing children from their ‘forever’ foster home.

In an interview, the minister told Newsroom he had watched most of the video and had called Oranga Tamariki officials into his office for a “please explain”.

“I was disturbed by what I saw – it was absolutely heartbreaking…

“The first thing that we should be thinking about is the wellbeing of those children, and…having children in a safe, loving family is the number one priority.”

Asked whether it was tenable for Oranga Tamariki chief executive Grainne Moss to remain at the top of the ministry in light of the latest revelations, he said: “There are issues with the leadership, and I am handling them, but let’s be really clear that the changes in OT are bigger than just the leadership. There is a systemic problem here and one person isn’t necessarily the problem, we have to look at the whole system.”

A spokesman for Davis told Newsroom the minister had requested an urgent written briefing to address a number of unresolved questions from his initial discussion with officials on Thursday morning.

That briefing failed to address his concerns, and when further clarifications still failed to satisfy him, he formally asked Oranga Tamariki’s chief social worker Grant Bennett to carry out a practice review of the uplift.

The terms of reference for the review were currently being drawn up, with an initial report expected by mid-December.

Sam Sachdeva is Newsroom's national affairs editor, covering foreign affairs and trade, housing, and other issues of national significance.

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