Police raid tried to take baby for Oranga Tamariki with no warning, father says

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The Waitangi Tribunal has heard how the parents of a newborn baby had no contact with Oranga Tamariki before police officers raided their home looking for the child.

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File photo. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

It is part of ongoing hearing into Oranga Tamariki practices in relation to tamariki Māori and whether they are compliant with Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Manurewa father Phillip Harris, who gave evidence at the hearing, said he had no dealings with Child, Youth and Family (now called Oranga Tamariki) before they ordered the removal of his newborn son from his care, three days after he was born on 17 June, 2016.

“About eight or nine police stormed into our house in Manurewa, I don’t know if they had a warrant because they didn’t show me one, they just told me to get out of the bedroom and to go wait in the living room while they checked the house.”

He said he had no prior interactions with any Child, Youth and Family social workers before they took the child, and he was not told by police what they were looking for.

Police also raided the house looking for the baby on another occasion.

Harris said it took four months for a judicial conference to be held, where the judge ordered Child, Youth and Family to stop looking for the child, but even after that, police tried to remove the child from Harris and his partner when they were stopped at a police checkpoint.

Police said there was still a warrant to take the baby and it took a number of calls between police and Child, Youth and Family before they accepted that the warrant had been lifted, Harris said.

“I don’t know why this hadn’t been updated on the system or why the police weren’t aware of what the Judge had said at the judicial conference a couple of weeks back.

Harris and his mother Te Enga Harris are now the legal guardians of the baby, but he said he still can’t believe they didn’t speak to the family first.

“The whole thing made me really angry. CYFs never talked to us… they didn’t try to come together and discuss a plan on how we could work together, or how our whānau could look after [REDACTED].

“They just went into full attack mode and started raiding our houses.”

Oranga Tamariki has been approached for comment.

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