Sir Mark Solomon takes chair at Oranga Tamariki ministerial advisory board

Former Ngāi Tahu chair Tā Mark Solomon will lead Oranga Tamariki's ministerial advisory board into the next phase of its mahi overseeing the children's agency.

Solomon has been a member of the panel since its inception in 2021, and will take over from inaugural chair Matthew Tukaki, who is stepping down.

Children's Commissioner Judge Frances Eivers has welcomed the continuation appointment as a seamless transition.

"This board was formed with a very specific brief from Minister [Kelvin] Davis. I was very fortunate to meet with the board early on in my appointment. The good thing is that Tā Mark moves into this having done the work, looking into the systems at Oranga Tamariki, being a key person in preparing the report," she said.

Under Tukaki the board released a report, Te Kahu Aroha last year that highlighted a need for substantial change within the organisation.

Commissioner Eivers says it's imperative that Solomon and the board, including fellow inaugural members Kahurangi Rangimarie Glavish and Shannon Pakura and the recently appointed members Dr Ruth Jones, Mana Williams-Eade and Alf Filipaina keep up the momentum of the past 14 months.

"They've set out great, very good benchmarks for the minister and the government to follow. And it's a move from reaction to prevention, and to help our tamariki their whānau, and families across Aotearoa who have been involved in state care.

"I was impressed by how hard-hitting and direct it [the report] was. And that's full credit to the board that prepared that. They have to be resourced and be able to continue that work.

"It's one thing to prepare, report and find the issues but the next part is to work through with solutions and to do what the board set out to do, which is to improve processes in Oranga Tamariki, to make it a place where our tamariki, mokopuna and whānau can safely get the support they need until they can stand on their own two feet again."

Children's Minister Kelvin Davis says Solomon is committed to continuing the progress made by the panel to address systemic issues at Oranga Tamariki.

“Tā Mark has a critical eye and is dedicated to this work, I know he will be focused on the needs for our tamariki and communities,” Davis said.

Oranga Tamariki has recently appointed a new leadership team, and is continuing work on the Future Direction Plan, which will lead to decision-making and resources devolved to communities.

Tukaki acknowledged

“Reforming the child protection system is an issue of huge importance to our country and it is one I am honoured to be playing a part in,” Solomon said.

“It is no secret that Māori are over-represented in this system and that the old models don’t work. I will be working hard to make sure the transformation of Oranga Tamariki changes that.”

Davis acknowledged Tukaki's contribution to the board, in particular Te Kahu Aroha.

“The report he produced with the other board members pulled no punches and was instrumental in helping me set a new direction for the agency.”

“Matthew has always been a loud voice for what is in the best interests of Māori and I’m glad he was able to use that focus to lay the foundations for improvements to child protection," Davis says.

Judge Eivers echoed those comments, saying Tukaki's pull-no-punches approach put the advisory panel and its work into the spotlight.

"He's done the work there, he's left it in good hands. He knows that there's no reason why the board should not be supported in resources to continue the good work that they've started.

"I really appreciate the work that Matt's done to make this put this profile of this very important work out there so that New Zealanders know that there is a real intent there from all quarters but particularly from our leaders to try and make things right in Oranga Tamariki."