A Maori child advocacy group has called for a $3 million campaign to persuade Maori parents to return to traditional non-violent parenting.
Te Kahui Mana Ririki is an advocacy group founded after the 2008 Maori Child Abuse Summit, which was prompted by the death of Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie. The group has developed a parenting model based on traditional Maori beliefs.
Ririki executive director Anton Blank said research showed that, historically, Maori were not violent towards children.
"Insulting and hitting children was banned because the chiefs believed that this broke the spirits of the children." Mr Blank said Ririki wanted a government-funded campaign that "pointed our people back to these values".
"Rates of family violence for Maori are high and we will be asking the Government to invest in communications to change attitudes and behaviours in our families." Road safety had improved and Maori smoking rates had dropped in response to government campaigns, he said.
"We believe the same approach should be applied to Maori parenting.
"Our whanau need new ways of parenting without violence. We want to precipitate major change and this requires long-term investment over two to three generations."
The call comes a few days after Rotorua woman Ngaire Tukiwaho was jailed for two years for the manslaughter of her 2-month-old son, Tahi.
Tukiwaho had been on a 12-hour drinking binge when she fell asleep in the back seat of her car and suffocated her baby, who was lying on her shoulder.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett announced a Child, Youth and Family investigation into the death.
The minister said last year that 55 per cent of substantiated child abuse cases involved Maori children, despite Maori representing only about 15 per cent of the population.
Mr Blank said his organisation had trained 800 community workers nationwide and tried a pilot of the parenting model, known as Tikanga Whakatipu Ririki, in Ngaruawahia and a Hamilton suburb.
Families responded to the Maori values underpinning the approach, he said. "From our experience Maori whanau will buy into a programme when they see that Maori culture and values are present."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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