Begorrah – Irish Moss brings relief to a leftie blogger who was discomforted by a foreign accent

Contrasting reactions to news of Grainne Moss’s resignation as Oranga Tamariki chief executive inevitably can be found in the blogosphere.

Lindsay Mitchell has recorded the ACT Party’s response to the resignation and hailed it as “spot on”.

The statement was made in the name of Karen Chhour, described as a part-Maori who grew up in foster care and hence has first-hand experience of Child, Youth and Family intervention:

“Oranga Tamariki (OT) will remain ungovernable and continue to fail children unless it’s allowed to focus on the one thing it was established to do, ensure the wellbeing of children,” says ACT’s Social Development and Children spokesperson Karen Chhour.

On the other side of the left-right-divide, Martyn Bradbury’s first instinct – an unabashed illiberal expression of intolerance – was to express relief at “not having to listen to Grainne Moss’s thick Irish accent lecture us about why the State needs to steal Māori children …”

Curiously, Bradbury seems to be arguing for the government to get out of the business of looking after the welfare of the country’s beaten and/or poverty-stricken children.

“The Left in NZ have to understand the first enemy of any progressive revolution is the neoliberal Wellington bureaucracy.

“Oranga Tamariki is a neoliberal experiment in Welfare. The argument is that by moving in early and removing children automatically from pre-decided risks, that the cost down stream won’t be as high.

“Oranga Tamariki IS NOT about the welfare of the child, it is about the welfare of the State!”

 Bradbury manages to assail feminism while railing against Wellington officialdom: 

“We have allowed a neoliberal welfare experiment to have powers we fought wars to stop other nations gaining over their citizens.

“To steal an infant from a mothers arms is the most fascist expression of power there is.

“How dare we allow this abomination to stand.

“But Moss won’t be held accountable for implementing this cruelty, National won’t be punished for creating it and Labour are too frightened of the PSA to demand actual reform.

“In the world of the Wellington neoliberal bureaucracy, black lives matter, but white middle class feminism matters more.”

Karen Chhour, an ACT list MP,  is no less satisfied with the ways things are done and that the system has failed.  But her prescription is fundamentally different.

The ACT website says of her: 

“Nearly every MP says they want to reform CYFPs/CYFs/Oranga Tamariki. Karen lived it and is coming to Parliament to make a better world for children left down and out. Her own story of overcoming adversity to have a loved family of her own and a successful business is the embodiment of ACT values. She changed her future.”

Chhour  draws attention to OT’s responsibilities under Section 7AA (here). 

Then she contends:

“Oranga Tamariki (OT) will remain ungovernable and continue to fail children unless it’s allowed to focus on the one thing it was established to do, ensure the wellbeing of children,” says ACT’s Social Development and Children spokesperson Karen Chhour.

 “Until OT’s mandate and rules are tidied up it is unlikely anybody of high quality will put themselves forward to run the organisation.

 “Well intentioned as it might have been, making the chief executive of the agency focus on the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi when responding to the needs of Maori children does not always result in the right outcomes for those children.”

 The Green Party seized on Moss’s resignation to enthuse about the race-based solution it favours.

Green Party spokesperson for Children Jan Logie said Moss had lost the confidence of the community, particularly Māori.

“Her resignation now paves the way for this Māori leadership.”


“If we want a future where all of our children are nurtured and safe, we need to do as the Children’s Commissioner has said and transfer power to Māori.”

Like Bradbury, Logie is calling for the state to delegate – or surrender – its child welfare responsibilities.

Does the same reasoning apply to the challenge of reducing poverty?

ACT’s Chhour eschews the racial separatism that Logie prefers:

“Oranga Tamariki’s governing principles and its Act should be colour-blind, utterly child-centric and open to whatever solution will ensure a child’s wellbeing.”


“Ethnicity and culture should not be a determining factor in deciding what is in the best interests of our children.

ACT – we are told – will be proposing a Member’s Bill that addresses these issues.

“The Government should drop the politically correct façade that’s holding the agency back and address s7AA itself.”

 We look forward to ACT’s legislative proposals being thoroughly debated.  Their prospects of going anywhere in a Parliament dominated by Labour and the Greens, however, are negligible if they reflect Chhour’s sentiments.

UPDATE:  Our original post has been corrected to credit Lindsay Mitchell with being the writer of the Lindsay Mitchell blog.  

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