Board of Māori leaders announced to 'fix' Oranga Tamariki

A new board of Māori leaders has been set up to help "fix" Oranga Tamariki.

Matthew Tukaki will chair the new Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board with members Dame Naida Glavish, Shannon Pakura, and Sir Mark Solomon. They will commence on February 1.

This comes after CEO Grainne Moss resigned on Friday after a controversial tenure heading up the agency charged with caring for vulnerable children.

Moss came under fire following the attempted uplift of a baby from its young mother at a Hastings hospital in 2019.

Children's Minister Kelvin Davis says the Government is committed to "fixing the child care and protection system" and wants it to become an organisation Kiwis trust and go to for help.

"This group will help us achieve that,” he said.

Davis admitted there had been concerns about the organisation's practice and culture, its lack of coordination with other NGOs, and its relationship with many Māori communities. 

"These issues are having a negative impact on the ability of the ministry to fulfil its role and it is important that they are addressed.

“Oranga Tamariki needs to be focused on enhancing relationships with whānau and Māori; embedding professional social work practices; developing a positive culture; and starting to entrust funding and decision-making to Māori and to people on the ground in our regions."

The new board will mainly focus on three areas: relationships with families, whānau, and Māori; professional social work practices; and organisational culture.

Tukaki is the New Zealand Māori Council executive director, Pakura was previously the President of Aotearoa Association of Social Workers and Sir Mark has been a leader with South Island iwi Ngai Tahu.

Dame Naida has worked in healthcare and led the Māori inquiry into Oranga Tamariki in 2020.

Children's Minister Kelvin Davis said they are a group of "accomplished" and "well respected" members of the community.

"Their combined expertise and experiences will be instrumental in ensuring that Oranga Tamariki supports people to be the best parents, to be a safe whānau and to provide the best possible care of our tamariki,” Davis said.

An initial report is expected by 30 June 2021.