Minister for Children Anne Tolley says the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki is working with iwi to strengthen whānau connections and improve children and whānau participation in decision-making.
“There are a number of initiatives underway to build stronger connections with iwi to ensure children and young people are connected to their whānau and have safe, loving, stable homes,” says Mrs Tolley.
“This collective approach ensures the right people are engaged in decision-making so we can address the needs of Māori tamariki in prevention, early intervention, care support, transition to independence, and youth justice.
“Early-stage whānau meetings (hui-a-whānau) and whānau searching are being trialled across 21 Ministry sites. Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Rangitāne, Ngāti Raukawa, and Ngāti Toa are also building capability to lead and co-ordinate Family Group Conferences.
“Hui-a-whānau provides a way for children, young people and whānau to work together to make decisions and resolve problems. At-risk families will be supported at an earlier stage, and outcomes of Family Group Conferences will be improved.
“Whānau searching will enable the Ministry to engage in a more culturally responsive way. As a result, children and young people are more likely to be placed with whānau, and develop a sense of belonging and connection.
“In Tairāwhiti two iwi co-ordinators have completed their first iwi-led Family Group Conferences with positive outcomes.
“For example, one young person attended the Te Ara Tuakiri Wananga Programme run by Turanga Ararau which teaches the requirements for Youth Court attendance, and participated in anger management classes and community work.
“Mokopuna Ora, which has been developed with Waikato Tainui, is being extended to South Auckland to keep children and young people connected with their extended whānau who will train a pool of people to act as kaitiaki.
“Mokopuna Ora has been successfully running in Waikato since 2015, and has resulted in 66 tamariki staying with whānau.
“Whānau are able to get extra help and support to safely care for their children at home. A whānau researcher also helps connect tamariki in care with their marae and hapū.”