A new dawn for the children of Ngāi Tahu

By Tumamao Harawira

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu will receive $25.9m of Oranga Tamariki funding to help the iwi protect its children. 

The money will be used on a new programme that builds on the work already in place to support whānau.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Chair Lisa Tumahai says it's a trailblazing programme.

"It will be different from the existing system, it's not there currently. So it's an exciting journey but no doubt it will also be a challenge."

The rūnanga says in the past, Māori didn’t receive the right support to prevent ‘significant events’ until after Oranga Tamariki intervention.

But with its strategic partnership agreement with the child welfare agency, the number of Ngāi Tahu children in Oranga Tamariki care had decreased from 362 in 2018 to 262 at the end of June this year.

In September, a report by a ministerial Māori advisory recommended Oranga Tamariki partner with Māori to devolve some responsibilities and to reduce the number of Māori children entering state care.  

The report criticised the agency for being ‘weak, disconnected and unfit’.

Acting CEO of Oranga Tamariki Chappy Te Kani says his agency got the message.

"They've given us their vision for success … and we are believing them, we are backing them."