A vision for all tamariki to be in the safe care of their whānau, hapū and iwi is at the heart of a Strategic Partnership Agreement signed with Te Kahu Oranga Whānau in Kaitaia.
Te Kahu Oranga Whānau is a collective of iwi and Māori organisations in Te Hiku o te Ika (the Far North), which includes Waitomo Papakāinga Development Trust, Te Whare Ruruhau O Meri, Te Rūnanga o te Rarawa and Tuhiata Mahi Ora.
Kaiārahi of Waitomo Papakāinga, Katie Murray says the partnership enables further action in Te Hiku to ensure tamariki are in the safe care of their whānau, hapū and iwi.
“Our moemoea (vision) is that there will be no more Māori children in our rohe going into state care,” she says.
“We are going to achieve this by continuing to build our capacity as whānau, hapū and iwi, and we will create strategies to ensure we can care for our own. All of us here today feel empowered by this partnership to go out and do the mahi.”
Gráinne Moss says it was an honour to sign this agreement as her one her last acts as Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki.
“It’s inspiring to have seen and been part of all of the mahi, aroha and passion that has gone into this partnership over recent years. The team in Te Hiku are doing incredible work together to improve outcomes for tamariki and whānau.”
Evolution in Te Hiku o te Ika
The partnership has been built through the values of Māoritanga and commitments under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act.
Ms Murray explained that the vison of this partnership was founded on the saying, “Mā Te Hiku o te Ika, Te Upoko e kōkiri – It is the tail of the fish (Far North) that thrusts the head of the fish (Wellington area) forward”.
In alignment with this, the Kaitaia Oranga Tamariki office will be renamed as Te Hiku o te Ika.
“Our dream is that it will become the smallest office in the country because we are going to continue to take on the responsibilities of Oranga Tamariki and be the drivers of that kaupapa,” Ms Murray said.
For example, Te Kahu Oranga Whānau will be able to step in when tamariki are in unsafe situations and provide support through wider whānau networks, she said.
“We are talking about evolution. Māori will be given back control of our own destiny of our children and our whānau.”
Committed to partnerships with Māori
This is the eighth SPA Oranga Tamariki has signed across the country. The others are with Waikato-Tainui, Ngāi Tahu, Eastern Bay of Plenty Iwi Provider Alliance, Māori Women’s Welfare League, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Toa and Te Ati Awa, and Ngāi Tūhoe.
An associated Partnering Agreement, Mana Ōrite, was signed in conjunction with the SPA. It reinforces and enables a significant shift towards greater equity and sharing of power between Oranga Tamariki and Te Kahu Oranga Whānau.