Office of the Children's Commissioner calls for 'total transformation' of care and protection system

Tue 15 Dec 2020

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) has released the second report of their two-part review of care and protection issues for pēpi Māori.

In his opening statement for the report, Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft says:

"Our call, and the key recommendation in this report, is for a total transformation of the statutory care and protection system. By that I mean nothing short of a ‘by Māori, for Māori’ approach and a transfer of responsibility, resources and power from the state to appropriate Māori entities, as determined by Māori."

He goes on to say:

"That said, there is much Oranga Tamariki can do immediately to prioritise and improve delivery of services to tamariki Māori. This report includes several recommendations for change that can begin today. But I want to stress that these are not destinations and, on their own, are not enough. They provide a steer for changes needed to keep mokopuna safe, in the broadest sense, in the intervening period. The by Māori, for Māori approach is the overarching goal."

Chief Māori Advisor to the Office of the Children’s Commissioner Dr Kathie Irwin says in her opening statement to the report:

"Radical disruptive change will only be created if systemic change is undertaken. Te Tiriti / the Treaty must be used as a framework – partnering with whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori entities as determined by Māori. Mātauranga Māori must be prioritised and working with kaupapa Māori drivers in any business modelling should aim to create Treaty-based, future-proofed, sustainable change that does not constitute the next Treaty breach." 

The report, Te Kuku O Te Manawa: Moe ararā! Haumanutia ngā moemoeā a ngā tūpuna mō te oranga o ngā tamariki (OCC, 2020), has two main two parts.

The first part shares findings from additional kaupapa Māori research building on the initial research in the first report. This additional research includes interviews with a new group of parents and whānau, midwives, community support people, and Oranga Tamariki staff. The OCC also took a deeper look at data and looked at relevant rangahau and mātauranga Māori (research and indigenous knowledge).

The second part of the report looks at changes to social work practice and legislation that are required to stop harm now, and ultimately support transition to by Māori, for Māori approaches.

The report concludes with four main recommendations. Under each recommendation the report outlines steps for change. The first and overarching recommendation is for the Prime Minister and Cabinet to commit to transfer power and resources from Government to enable a by Māori for Māori approach.

The remaining three main recommendations focus on actions to support pēpi and whānau through this transformational change and to stop harm that is happening now from the care and protection systems, policies and practices. These three recommendations focus on:

  • changes to statutory social work policy and practice
  • changes to the contracting process and increases in funding and support to iwi and Māori organisations, and support and resource a transition pathway
  • the Minister for Children drive changes to legislation and Oranga Tamariki change the current systems including work with other social sector agencies, District Health Boards and police.

In addition to the full report, brief At A Glance versions are available in English and Te Reo Māori. Also see the OCC media release

RNZ interviewed the Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft and Assistant Māori Commissioner for Children Glenis Philip-Barbara about the report. 

New Minister for Children, Kelvin Davis, was interviewed about the report on One News and Waatea News.

Oranga Tamariki has issued a statement in response to the OCC report. 

See the media below for commentary from iwi and Māori leaders and advocates.

Related news

Media have reported that Oranga Tamariki CEO Grainne Moss acknowledged structural racism in the care and protection system and the failure of the Crown to implement recommendations of Pūao-te-Ata-tū in her submission to the Waitangi Tribunal urgent inquiry examining the practices of Oranga Tamariki. See the media below for more reports from submissions to the Waitangi Tribunal inquiry. See the Oranga Tamariki website for their responses to the ongoing reviews of the care and protection system. Oranga Tamariki has published a number of briefs and data summaries related to the care and protection system including a number of reports related to disparities experienced by tamariki Māori. For more information see the following sections of the Oranga Tamariki website: Analytics and insights, Reports to the Minister for Children and Research articles.

The Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-Based Institutions has submitted an interim report to the Government. Cabinet will consider when to publicly release the report. The Royal Commission has continued to hold hearings. See the media below for recent updates on the inquiry.

In September 2020, the Government announced a new whānau-centred early intervention programme, Ngā Tini Whetū. The programme is a collaboration between Oranga Tamariki, Te Puni Kōkiri, ACC and the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency. Whānau Ora Chief Executive Officer John Tamihere said “This is the first step in taking responsibility for our own welfare and challenges."

In September 2020 the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) published a briefing and monitoring report on the Implementing the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy for July 2019-June 2020. Children's Commissioner Becroft said “This report tells the story of some important but, first steps forward on a much bigger journey to implementation. I look forward to seeing them followed up with the big bold changes in the future necessary for fundamental improvement.”

Related media

Government acknowledges release of Royal Commission interim report, Beehive press release, 16.12.2020

Royal Commission Report Shows Need For Closure Of Large Residences, Press Release: Office of the Children's Commissioner, Scoop, 16.12.2020

Royal Commission into Abuse in Care releases interim report, RNZ, 16.12.2020

As many as 250,000 children could have been abused in state care - report, Stuff, 16.12.2020

'A lot of abuse took place there': State care institutions vanished from records, Stuff, 16.12.2020

Oranga Tamariki ‘review’ did not contact foster parents, Newsroom, 15.12.2020

Oranga Tamariki immediately suspends 'reverse uplifts', Stuff, 14.12.2020

Oranga Tamariki deputy head Hoani Lambert has resigned, chief executive confirms, RNZ, 14.12.2020

Te Upoko iwi sign up for Oranga Tamariki partnership, Waatea News, 03.12.2020

‘How we halted a reverse uplift by Oranga Tamariki’, Newsroom, 07.12.2020

Our Truth, Tā Mātou Pono: How we've made Māori the face of child abuse and minimised the abuse of Pākehā children, Stuff, 01.12.2020

Carers: Oranga Tamariki adds to the trauma, Newsroom, 01.12.2020

Davis demands formal review of Oranga Tamariki uplift, Newsroom, 30.11.2020

Moss a drag on child protection reform, Waatea News, 30.11.2020

Oranga Tamariki 'will not get it right' until power sits with Māori - Assistant Māori Children's Commissioner Glenis Philip-Barbara, Newshub, 28.11.2020

The collateral damage of ideologically-driven uplifts, Newsroom, 27.11.2020

Court orders Newsroom to remove Oranga Tamariki video, Newsroom, 27.11.2020

Why such resistance to finding whānau-led solutions for at-risk children?, Stuff, 26.11.2020

Grainne Moss clings on as Crown admits structural racism, Newsroom, 25.11.2020

Children's report chance for transformational change, Waatea News, 24.11.2020

Children's Commission report lays ground for resource fight, Waatea News, 24.11.2020

Ngāti Ruanui: Oranga Tamariki Not Delivering On Iwi Partnership, Press Release: Ngāti Ruanui, Scoop, 24.11.2020

Oranga Tamariki report: Midwives and support workers detail heartbreak of whānau, RNZ, 23.11.2020

Human Rights Commission Welcomes Calls For Transformation Of Oranga Tamariki, NZ Human Right Commission media release, 23.11.2020

Inquiry: Turn child protection over to Māori, Newsroom, 23.11.2020

Oranga Tamariki report looms from children's commissioner over Māori baby uplifts, Stuff, 20.11.2020

Glenis Philip-Barbara: Stepping up for Māori kids, E-Tangata, 15.11.2020

Oranga Tamariki's multimillion-dollar package to help fund youth state carers delivers just $30k in first year, Stuff, 14.11.2020

Power and devolution: the final chapter of the Oranga Tamariki inquiry, The Spinoff, 02.11.2020

Our Māori babies were failed by the State - who will make it right?, Opinion: Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, Stuff, 01.11.2020

Oranga Tamariki roots in assimilation policies, Waatea News, 30.10.2020

Power transfer from Oranga Tamariki must be radical, Waitangi Tribunal told, RNZ, 28.10.2020

‘Walk away from it. Create something that beats like your own heart.’, Newsroom, 27.10.2020

Taking Māori babies after birth 'cruel and inhumane' - Māori midwives head, RNZ, 27.10.2020

Name changes but attacks on whanau Māori continue, Waatea News, 23.10.2020

Push Oranga Tamariki Out Of The Equation | Māori Know What Works For Their Own, Press Release: National Urban Māori Authority, Scoop, 22.10.2020

Kaupapa Māori not valued at Oranga Tamariki, social workers say, RNZ, 21.10.2020

Defending state abuse: Follow the money, Newsroom, 20.10.2020

Abuse in state care: Taking on the Crown, Newsroom, 16.10.2020

Oranga Tamariki: How far has it come and where does it need to go from here?, Stuff, 16.10.2020

Abuse, torture and a deep state campaign of denial, Newsroom, 15.10.2020

Assistant Māori Commissioner for Children appointed for first time, RNZ, 07.10.2020

Whānau-centred project aims to reduce chances of harm to children, Stuff, 25.09.2020

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