It is estimated that about 70 per cent of tamariki (children) in care of the Oranga Tamariki (the Ministry of Children) are Maori. Yet reportedly, only about 20 percent of its services are provided by Maori Organisations. This inherent lack of cultural representation in the system has resulted in long-term adverse effects on the welfare of Maori tamariki and ultimately the Tangata Whenua (Maori people).
The amendments to the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 (Children’s and Young People’s Well-being Act 1989) that came into effect on 1 July 2019 aim to tackle this issue head on by imposing a duty on the Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki under Section 7AA to recognise and provide a practical commitment to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
A two-pronged approach is being adopted by Oranga Tamariki to give effect to its commitment to Te Tiriti. Firstly, when assessing a tamariki’s needs Oranga Tamariki is now required to have regard to mana tamaiti of that tamariki – mana tamaiti meaning the intrinsic value and inherent dignity derived from that tamariki’s whakapapa (genealogy) and their belonging to a whānau, hapū, iwi, or family group, in accordance with tikanga Māori (Maori customs). Secondly, there is now an active duty on Oranga Tamariki to seek and develop strategic partnerships with iwis and Maori Organisations who can provide support for the tamariki in their care.
In addition, there are more stringent reporting obligations on Oranga Tamariki now, requiring them to set measurable goals for Maori children and to then publicly report on their progress in meeting these goals on an annual basis.
Exciting and challenging times lie ahead and our team here at Rice Craig is actively engaged and monitoring these positive changes and their implementation. We are happy to talk to you about any further queries you might have regarding these changes and any other family matters you might wish to discuss.