Oranga Tamariki reveals 13 staff removed from under-fire youth justice facilities

Oranga Tamariki has now revealed 13 staff have been removed from its under-fire youth justice facilities in recent weeks, as multiple investigations get underway.

On Tuesday, Newshub exclusively broadcast footage of a fight between youths at Auckland's Korowai Manaaki Youth Justice Residence. Now, there are claims staff not only filmed the fights but encouraged them too.

Oranga Tamariki has not responded to the latest allegations, but former staff are speaking out.

"It was probably staff that instigated that, which I think is absolutely disgusting," an ex-employee told Newshub.

Those claims were backed up on Thursday by parents and those who've spent time at Korowai Manaaki.

Meanwhile, Oranga Tamariki confirmed 13 staff have now been removed in recent weeks, including those who prompted former Police boss Mike Bush's review of the agency.

"I feel for the kids and the staff that are still there," the former employee said on Thursday.

"It is extremely unsafe at the moment, and something needs to change."

It's at least the second time in two years disturbing footage has emerged from Oranga Tamariki facilities supposed to be safe spaces for young people.

More footage, from 2021, shows youths being thrown to the ground by staff in one of the agency’s Care and Protection Residences.

Oranga Tamariki has revealed 13 staff have been removed from their youth justice facilities.
Oranga Tamariki has revealed 13 staff have been removed from their youth justice facilities. Photo credit: Newshub.

Parliamentary questions from June this year reveal four staff remain suspended two years on from that incident.

"If you put young people and children into a prison-like environment, there's going to be prison-like behaviour like this fighting," Children's Commissioner Judge Frances Eivers told Newshub.

She said there's only one course of action when it comes to Youth Justice Residences.

"I think they should all be closed down. I've said that long and hard, and so have the commissioners before me."

Oranga Tamariki has not been drawn on fresh allegations emerging in the last 48 hours.

In a statement, deputy chief executive Tusha Penny said the agency's taking action fast and, when necessary, involving Police.

She also acknowledged in the past that staff, young people and whanau may have felt unsupported or unsafe raising concerns.