Agencies showing interest in Whānau Ora models but more needs to be done for change

Parliament's Māori affairs committee has been told some public agencies have adopted whānau-centred approaches to their services but, overall, there has been limited support shown to Whānau Ora.

The comments by the Office of the Auditor-General were made as a report into a review of how well public organisations were supporting Whānau Ora and whānau-centred approaches.

Auditor-General's office performance auditor Ethan McKenzie said the review commissioned in 2019 didn't find a significant shift towards whānau-centred initiatives or structured consideration of where such approaches were appropriate.

"There are two main reasons for this. First, there aren't clear expectations about how public organisations should support Whānau Ora and whānau-centred approaches. And secondly, some public sector processes and practices can make it difficult for public organisations to support Whānau Ora and whānau-centred approaches."

Collaborative efforts

Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare, who ordered the review, says the programme introduced in 2010 needs to be supported by the wider public sector to make meaningful change for whānau. He cites Paiheretia Te Muka Tāngata as an example of collaborative efforts showing success.

The kaupapa is jointly led by Corrections, MSD and Te Puni Kōkiri in partnership with Māori to support tāne Māori who are engaged in the Corrections system and their whānau to develop their own pathways to achieve their aspirations.

"Engari i tenei wa tonu kei te rapu matou kei hea etahi atu tari e hiahia ana matou kia tono atu kia uru mai ki te kaupapa. Tena pea ko te hunga pirihimana, tena pea ko nga take hanga whare penei i te kainga ora. Kua puare nei te kuaha ki nga tari katoa."
(But we are looking to form better relationships with other agencies we feel need to be involved. For example the police, housing, Kainga Ora. We'll work with everyone who wants to.)

The report, released in February, acknowledged Te Puni Kōkiri having administered parts of Whānau Ora "well" and had clear frameworks and accountability arrangements for the three commissioning agencies but recommended TPK be given a stronger mandate and public agencies be given clearer directions on how they can support Whānau Ora and whānau-centred approaches.

"Once these things are clarified, there will ideally be a more enabling environment for public organisations to change how they work, to better support these approaches, and also help with other work underway to change the way that the government is commissioning social services," McKenzie told the committee.

Henare also highlighted Ngā Tini Whetū as another example of collaborative efforts working well.

- Additional reporting by Ngahuia Wade

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