Oranga Tamariki has triggered its child protection protocol after footage showed staff tackling and head-locking kids in state care.
A whistle-blower released CCTV footage to Newsroom showing carers at Care and Protection Facilities - run by Oranga Tamariki for youths put in state care by the Family Court - using unapproved techniques to restrain young men.
In a statement, Oranga Tamariki chief executive Sir Wira Gardiner said he was deeply concerned that excessive force looks to have been used against children. Oranga Tamariki has also confirmed to Newshub that it has triggered the Child Protection Protocol which will involve the police.
Children's Minister Kelvin Davis condemned the staff and ordered an investigation into residences at Oranga Tamariki.
"I watched the video this morning and I need to say that it is totally unacceptable. I've asked Oranga Tamariki to review each of the four residences to make sure there isn't a system-wide problem," he says.
The four Care and Protection Residences deal with particularly vulnerable children who've often suffered trauma and abuse, but not done anything wrong themselves.
A whistle-blower took the video to Newsroom to shine a light on the excessive force being used against children.
Care workers must adhere to special de-escalation techniques but can use physical restraints as a last resort.
Davis thanked the whistle-blower for coming forward.
"I support anybody who raises issues around bad practice."
He adds that Oranga Tamariki needs to get to the bottom of whether the carers should be in these facilities if that's how they treat children in their care. But Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft wants Oranga Tamariki to do more than that.
Before Oranga Tamariki confirmed it was going to trigger its child protection protocol, he said he believed that's what officials needed to do.
"Let's face it, it probably wouldn't survive a modern-day rugby league citing and if a parent did it they'd be investigated by the police."
The Commissioner has serious concerns about the four residences.
"In my view now there's a one-word solution: bulldozer."