Waikato Tainui secured $ 32.1 million from Oranga Tamariki to assist in an iwi-led support program to help children and whānau in need.
The funding will be distributed over the next five years to the Mokopuna Ora program, an initiative in which Waikato Tainui supports whānau to prevent mokopuna (grandchildren) from being placed in the care of Oranga Tamariki.
Mokopuna Now also supports tamariki to be with whakapapa-whānau caregivers.
It also provides enveloping support for parents to achieve well-being with the intention of reuniting tamariki with their parents wherever possible.
Tainui leader Rahui Papa says the deal with Oranga Tamariki is based on the partnership of Mokopuna Ora.
This prompted the agency to involve iwi when children of Waikato Tainui origin caught the agency’s attention in its region, including southern Auckland.
“The last statistics I saw were 173 possible elevations of Oranga Tamariki in the family court. Only four have been issued. It’s huge because Tawhiao said ‘we will take care of our mokopuna’ and this is giving effect to that.”
The new agreement will give iwi more resources to support whānau in the prevention phase and will involve iwi in collaborating with whānau which becomes aware of the child protection agency with the aim of preventing children from ending up in state care.
Chappie Te Kani, chief executive of Oranga Tamariki, says the historic agreement recognizes the need to work differently.
“Of course it was recognized by the requests and reviews of Oranga Tamariki the need to work in a different way, to work in a network, in a relational way with Māori, with iwi, and what this agreement allows is for us to work in collaboration and find those ways of working to provide assistance to our tamariki “.
There are currently 4,731 children and young people in care in Oranga Tamariki, the lowest number since the agency was founded five years ago.
Te Kōhao Health’s chief executive, Lady Tureiti Moxon, congratulated those who signed the agreement, but also acknowledged the pain that exists for the Maori in charge of the state health system.
“Beyond that, however, we have to consider the large number of tamariki / mokopuna and their whānau who live in our cities and do not belong to local iwi or are disconnected from their iwi across the country,” he said.
“At the request of Oranga Tamariki Waitangi Tribunal Hearings (Wai 2915), many Maori suppliers contracted with Oranga Tamariki found the relationship between them and Oranga Tamariki difficult, diligent and strained.
“While we recognize that there have been some changes in Oranga Tamariki’s leadership, nothing has substantially changed to transfer power, control and resources to iwi / Māori.”
This announcement updates the strategic partnership agreement between Waikato Tainui and Oranga Tamariki signed in 2019.