Ngāti Maniapoto, Waikato uri to take over as new children's commissioner

By Te Ao - Māori News

New Children's Commissioner Judge Frances Eivers is no stranger to the things that matter for the youngest of New Zealanders.  

She has worked alongside whānau for the best outcomes for tamariki and has worked in the family, youth and general jurisdictions in Manukau, South Auckland, and the greater Auckland region. She also served her community as a  lawyer in New Zealand and London, with a focus on family, youth, and criminal law.

The Kawerau-born and Te Teko-raised judge has been the lead judge at Te Kooti Rangatahi ki Manurewa, Papakura and Pukekohe and worked in a supporting judge capacity at Pasifika Courts Auckland and Mangere, Te Kooti Rangatahi ki Ōrākei and Te Kooti Rangatahi ki Hoani Waititi. She is also a member of the District Court Kaupapa Māori Advisory Group. 

Judge Eivers was born in Kawerau and grew up in Te Teko. She is Ngāti Maniapoto and Waikato.

Walking in two worlds

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni says, Eivers' background "gives her the ability, and credibility, to walk in two worlds: te ao Māori and te ao Pākehā.

“I’m very pleased to appoint Judge Eivers to the role at this time of change, and I am sure she will do an excellent job approaching the role in a careful, considered and thoughtful manner.

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner has been influential in redirecting Oranga Tamariki and the minister pointed out the work ahead for Judge Eivers.

“The Office of the Children’s Commissioner is about to undergo significant change, with monitoring activities under the Oranga Tamariki Act transferring to the independent children’s monitor. This will allow the commissioner to focus entirely on the critical role of advocating for our tamariki and rangatahi.

“I am sure Judge Eivers will ensure the Office smoothly transitions through this period of change while continuing to deliver on the advocacy role."

Becroft legacy 

Judge Eivers will have big shoes to fill. Her predecessor, Judge Andrew Becroft, has been at the forefront of change with his advocacy for the wellbeing of children. He pushed to make things better for children including raising concerns about Oranga Tamariki, child protection, calling for action to stop sexual violence, and increasing benefits to end child poverty. 

The minister thanked him in her announcement: “I want to acknowledge the fantastic job of the outgoing commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft. Since 2016, he has worked tirelessly on behalf of our children and young people and the lives of many young people are better because of his work,” Sepuloni said.