Politics | John Tamihere

State organisations fail Whānau Ora - Auditor General

State organisations have failed to adequately engage Whānau Ora in commissioning services, despite being told by the minister to do so, more than four years ago.

A new report by Auditor-General John Ryan has found ‘limited’ progress by the public sector in supporting Whānau Ora and whānau-centred approaches.

“In 2019, the Minister for Whānau Ora said he wanted public organisations to increase their investment in Whānau Ora and support and implement more whānau-centred approaches generally,” the report says.

"Some public organisations have taken steps towards supporting and implementing whānau-centred approaches," the report says. However "the Auditor-General has not seen a significant shift towards supporting or implementing whānau-centred services and initiatives where it is appropriate to do so".

The report comes as no surprise to Whānau Ora North Island Commissioning Agency chief executive John Tamihere who told state agencies aren't up to the job.

'Cumbersome' state agencies

“State agencies are cumbersome and cannot deploy resources where they are needed,” Tamihere said.

“The AOG report evidence is there is resistance to devolve power."

The Auditor-General concluded barriers to supporting and implementing whānau-centred approaches "are not insurmountable" but that organisations should be set targets for how much commissioning should be done externally and Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Māori Development, should receive a "clearer and stronger mandate for broadening whānau-centred approaches".

“I acknowledge that it can be challenging to change public sector norms and conventions,” Ryan says. “This can even be the case when there is consensus that significant changes are needed.

“I have made recommendations that are intended to support the public service to broaden its understanding and development of approaches that give whānau the ability to achieve their aspirations and live well.”