The removal of a Māori child in May 2019 led to widespread protest and the launch of four inquiries into the Ministry for Children, plus an urgent inquiry through the Waitangi Tribunal. Tamariki Māori are over-represented in the child welfare system, but the issues are not just about the system itself. The legacy of colonisation continues to have an impact, not just on individual whānau, but also on the loss of tikanga in relation to whānau. It is the tikanga of whānau that many protesters seek to protect. Furthermore, advocates for reform disagree on the extent to which partnership and biculturalism should be prioritised, or whether self-determination should be a minimum prerequisite for change. Understanding this difference of opinion is important because it affects our view of the child welfare system itself. This article explores these issues within the current context, where child welfare issues are a matter of considerable public debate.