A new iwi-led plan to transform the way Hawkes Bay tamariki and whānau are supported has been officially launched today by Minister for Children, Kelvin Davis, at Waipatu Marae.
Te Ara Mātua was formed in partnership between Ngāti Kahungunu, Oranga Tamariki and Te Tumu Whakahaere o Te Wero (local health and social wellbeing partners).
Minister Davis said the new plan will see iwi and local organisations more involved in decision making from the outset when whānau require intervention and support.
The shift is expected to see a continued reduction in the number of children in care by using community relationships to intervene earlier and more effectively, he said.
“Ngāti Kahungunu whānau know what’s best for their mokopuna but they have not had the power and resources needed to make those crucial decisions and respond appropriately,” Mr Davis said.
“Te Ara Mātua changes this and sees the Crown standing back and enabling communities.”
The partnership is the result of a wider plan to transform Oranga Tamariki by empowering iwi and local organisations to be more involved in early decision making and supporting them to meet the needs of their tamariki.
In August last year, Te Atatū was launched in the Far North. Like Te Ara Mātua, the aim is to see fewer tamariki entering in to care by ensuring that more effective, locally-led prevention strategies are used to achieve this.
The changes are making a difference. Since 2018 uplifts are down 73% and there are 1,600 fewer children in care, said Minister Davis.
“Over 30 years ago the landmark report ‘Puao Te Atatū’ found that the Crown’s role is to support Māori and communities to lead the prevention of harm to tamariki and their whānau and to share authority and provide adequate resources,” he said.
“Since that report was published, Oranga Tamariki and its predecessor organisations have been reviewed 15 times including more recently following the attempted removal of a new-born pēpi from its mother in Hawkes Bay. The launch is to honour the findings in Puao Te Atatū and to demonstrate a shared pathway forward.
“Oranga Tamariki is supporting Ngāti Kahungunu to lead their own response to inform how the state can change the way it works with communities to deliver the best outcomes for tamariki.
“I would like to acknowledge Ngāti Kahungunu for providing leadership to the kaupapa and for ensuring that whānau voices resonate throughout Te Ara Mātua,” the Minister said.