National | Oranga Tamariki

Te Whānau o Waipareira signs childcare agreement with Oranga Tamariki

A landmark agreement between Oranga Tamariki and Te Whānau o Waipareira will seek to put an end to the controversial uplifting of Māori children in West Auckland.

The agreement is part of a wider plan to devolve the responsibility of Māori children in state care from Oranga Tamariki to iwi.

The agreement comes under section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act, which says Oranga Tamariki must adhere to Treaty-based provisions such as partnership.

Te Whānau o Waipareira chief executive John Tamihere says the partnership represents a new direction for the Crown.

"A partnership is a totally different relationship. I'm not an employee, I'm not a contractor. They're tangata tiriti, and I'm tangata whenua."

The agreement is worth $5m to Te Whānau o Waipareira and, according to Oranga Tamariki Minister Kelvin Davis, the Crown needs to step back and let iwi lead.

Oranga Tamariki and Te Whānau o Waipareira seek to end tamariki uplifting.

Crown 'the last resort'

"There is a role for the government to play but it's very small. The responsibility of looking after Māori children will fall to Māori."

The stance is supported by his chief executive Chappie Te Kani.

"The role of the Crown would be the last resort. If we have to. If we have to step in with a whānau, it's the last option, not the first option."

There are two parts to the agreement. One is the partnership but the more important aspect is how the partnership works on the ground.

Waipareira's Whānau Ora director Jacqui Harema says just how the partnership looks on the ground is key.

How it will work

"The outcome agreement is how? What are the logistics? What is the on-ground mahi that has to happen, in order for the strategic partnership to come to life. So there will be things like working with sites on the ground, looking at uplift protocols, and how Te Whānau o Waipareira will be involved when tamariki Māori are involved."

Other Māori organisations were on hand today to witness the agreement, with more partnerships in the pipeline in Auckland. Manurewa Marae chief executive Tasha Kemp, a member of iwi collective group Te Pae Herenga o Tāmaki, says today's signing is just a beginning.

"Through Te Pae Herenga o Tāmaki and Waipareira, this just strengthens and enhances that hononga [relationship] between Oranga Tamariki and Manurewa Marae through Waipareira."