Report and recommendations from Māori-led Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki

Mon 17 Feb 2020

The final report and recommendations from the Māori-led inquiry into Oranga Tamariki have been published.

At the Iwi Chairs Forum at Waitangi on 4 February 2020, Iwi Chairs voted unanimously to support all 'action point' recommendations from the report, Ko Te Wā Whakawhiti: It's Time for Change - A Māori Inquiry into Oranga Tamariki (2020).

This inquiry set out to address the need for a review by Māori for Māori. In particular, the inquiry took "[a]n approach where Māori stories and worldviews are brought to the fore against the background of an increasing lack of understanding by government around Māori tamariki needs." (Executive Summary, page 2) The primary focus was ensuring the voices of whānau with lived experience of Oranga Tamariki were at the centre of the inquiry. 

More than 1000 whānau participated in the inquiry. The main themes that emerged from the whānau feedback were related to:

  • Whakapapa Trauma
  • Discrimination, Prejudice and the ‘Report of Concern’
  • Uplifts, Section 78, and placement practices
  • Whānau Access, Communication and trying to ‘navigate the system’
  • Oranga Tamariki Workforce: Competency, Capacity and Behaviour.

The 200-page report outlines a number of recommendations under three main action points:

Action point 1: Supporting whānau - strengthen whānau capability and capacity:

"The findings of this Inquiry highlight that the immediate support of whānau with lived experience of the State care process - whether as (ex) wards of the State, care-givers, or whānau facing an uplift of their tamariki - is of utmost importance."

Action point 2: A structural analysis and review of Oranga Tamariki systems, policies, processes and practices:

"Throughout the Inquiry it became apparent that although we spoke to participants about their experiences with Oranga Tamariki, the complexity of the issues reached beyond a single government department, and pointed to inter-related systemic dysfunction across multiple government agencies underpinned by Crown policy, and misunderstanding of the application of policy, in particular Section 7AA of the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Act 2017.

A systemic analysis was outside the scope for this review, but it is of extreme importance that this piece of work is undertaken to effect change in the long term. Furthermore, there needs to be an understanding of ethical implications of whānau data, and who ‘owns’ that data."

Action point 3: Build on the call from whānau for ‘By Māori - For Māori, with Māori’ solutions for long-term sustainability:

"The long-term vision for whānau wellbeing is for robust and sustainable change that is ultimately driven by whānau priorities and world-views. This long-term, systemic change is based on Māori decision-making, collective Māori endorsement, integration, workforce development, and sustainable funding. It includes the voices of whānau Māori with lived experience at all levels of decision-making, and builds on collective Māori endorsement (whānau/hapū/iwi/hapori) and political momentum."

The Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency led the Māori-led inquiry into Oranga Tamariki with support from the South Island Commissioning Agency Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu under the guidance of Māori leaders. 

Additional resources from the inquiry are available from the Whānau Ora Commissioning agency website including:

In launching the report, the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency wrote "Dame Naida Glavish, who chaired the governance group overseeing the Māori review said this report confirms systemic failure, discrimination and inexplicable breaches of human rights towards Māori."

Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu Pouārahi | Chief Executive Helen Leahy said:

“In the wake of the $100m Whenua Māori Investment Fund, we are hopeful that the reports today will provide convincing evidence of the need for a Whānau Māori Investment Fund to invest in a whānau-centred approach to enable whānau to keep tamariki with whānau Māori. The reports are a compelling read: whānau, whakapapa, whenua, whanaungatanga, and whangai form the basis for whānau wellbeing and by extension the strongest platform for tamariki care and protection.”

Responses to the report

Grainne Moss, Chief Executive, Oranga Tamariki - Ministry for Children responded to the report noting that Oranga Tamariki will take time to work through it.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made brief comments in response to the report in an interview with One News.

One News also reported comments from a statement by Principal Family Court Judge Moran.

Related news

Five Māori wahine leaders have filed a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal regarding the allocation of government funding for Whānau Ora: Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, Dame Tariana Turia, Dame Rangimarie Naida Glavish, Lady Tureiti Moxon and Dame Iritana Tāwhiwhirangi. The Prime Minister has met with the group and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare.

Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou published the report Caring for our Tamaiti Mokopuna: Voices of Ngāti Porou Tamaiti Mokopuna and Whānau (2019). The report examines progress since Ngāti Porou established the Ara Kāinga model and approach in 1987 to return Ngāti Porou tamaiti mokopuna from State care to whānau. The report includes perspectives from the current generation of Ngāti Porou on aims, aspirations and challenges.

Oranga Tamariki and Waitomo Papakainga have launched a Whānau Care partnership. The purpose is to ensure tamariki who need care are living safely with carers who have whakapapa connections. This builds on existing Oranga Tamariki relationships with iwi.

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner published four resources as part of the Commissioner's review of Oranga Tamariki's policies, processes and practice relating to care and protection issues for pēpi Māori aged 0-3 months. The resources include an infographic and a statistical snapshot which highlighted "stark inequities" in the number of pēpi Māori being placed in State custody compared to non-Māori babies. The Children’s Commissioner expects to publish their report later in 2020.

The Chief Ombudsman is also carrying out a review.

The Waitangi Tribunal is carrying out an urgent inquiry into the policies and practices of Oranga Tamariki.

In November 2019, Oranga Tamariki - Ministry for Children published the results of its internal practice review.

Related media

Māori-led Oranga Tamariki inquiry did not require response - Minister, RNZ, 03.06.2020

Waitangi Tribunal looks at scope of its Oranga Tamariki inquiry, RNZ, 15.05.2020

Nelson author opens book on 'national shame' of institutional child abuse and racism, Stuff, 28.02.2020

Oranga Tamariki running for cover, Newsroom, 25.02.2020

Child protection: Why doesn't fixing it work?, Re-Imagining Social Work in Aotearoa New Zealand Blog, 25.02.2020

Oranga Tamariki uplift complaints team investigating 17 cases, RNZ, 24.02.2020

OT returned injured boy to Flaxmere home, Newsroom, 19.02.2020

‘OT need to own their part in this’, Newsroom, 19.02.2020

Whānau Ora prison programmes funded by Corrections - Kelvin Davis, RNZ, 13.02.2020

Ian Hyslop: Will we listen this time? Re-Imagining Social Work in Aotearoa New Zealand, 05.02.2020

‘Unprecedented breaches of human rights’: The Oranga Tamariki inquiry releases its findings, The Spinoff, 04.02.2020

Oranga Tamariki and CYFS too similar, Waatea News, 04.02.2020

Spat over Whānau Ora role, Waatea News, 04.02.2020

Minister, opposition defend Oranga Tamariki head following Māori inquiry into child uplifts, NZ Herald, 03.02.2020

Focus: Lady Tureiti Moxon talks about the governance group for the Māori-led inquiry into Oranga Tamariki, NZ Herald, 03.02.2020

Carer who took in removed children says process deeply traumatic, RNZ, 03.02.2020

Whānau share stories of Oranga Tamariki experiences, RNZ, 03.02.2020

Iwi vision for children, Gisborne Herald, 01.02.2020

Oranga Tamariki backs Ngāti Porou care model, RNZ, 31.01.2020

Ngāti Porou aims to have no children taken into state care by 2025, RNZ, 31.01.2020

Whānau Ora in Te Waipounamu focused on growing investment, Press Release: Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, Scoop, 28.01.2020

Ardern meeting chance to clear air over whānau ora, Waatea News, 24.01.2020

Boost in Whānau Ora funding to keep changing lives, Beehive media release, 23.01.2020

Te Pūtahitanga lukewarm on whānau ora claim, Waatea News, 23.01.2020

Cheat sheet: Five Māori leaders vote ‘no confidence’ in Whānau Ora minister, The Spinoff, 22.01.2020

Claim challenges state takeover of Whānau Ora, Waatea News, 21.01.2020

Children’s Commissioner Report confirms racist discrimination against Māori by Oranga Tamariki, Waatea News, 17.01.2020

Maori Oranga Tamariki report brutally frank, Waatea News, 27.12.2019

Lights on Oranga Tamariki, Press Release: Ngati Hine Health Trust, 06.12.2019

Agreement on Children in State Care, Press Release: Maori Council, 28.11.2019

Youth Maori Council Announced - a voice for our young people, Press Release: Maori Council, Scoop, 28.11.19

Northland Maori Commissioning Collective emerges, Press Release: Ngati Hine Health Trust, 21.11.19

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