Former Oranga Tamariki care facility resident backs staff who used unapproved restraint techniques

A former resident of the Christchurch Oranga Tamariki care facility that used unapproved restraint techniques on a child is urging people to remember there are two sides to every story.

Makaira Halliday, 15, says he values the year he lived at Te Oranga and is supporting the staff who work there.

The reaction to the video, which showed the Oranga Tamariki staff tackling and headlocking a child in care, is something Makaira says he is upset at given he had a positive experience while living there.

"At first I was thinking, 'what made the staff do that and what happened prior to the incident?' Was the young person being aggressive towards the staff members or aggressive toward the young people," he says.

Regardless, he fully supports the staff involved and is speaking out.

"[They] are the most down to earth staff members you could meet."

Whangai mum Jan Halliday, who used to visit Makaira each week, agrees.

"I knew them both and they're just so gentle," she says.

Makaira has plenty of happy memories from his time at Te Oranga.

"Kapa haka, carving, tikanga Māori, mau rākau, and mahinga kai," he says.

He's urging people to remember there are two sides to every story and disagrees with Oranga Tamariki's decision to close the facility and bring in replacement staff.

"It's going to be quite horrific for them because they've built up all these connections over these past quite a few months, or however long they've been there," he says.

Youth advocate Dame Sue Bagshaw agrees.

"I'd love the Government to research the needs of the people [and] secondly to talk to the people who have the need because they have some great ideas of how to get it themselves because there is this huge gap."

Oranga Tamariki stood down the staff involved, and as investigations into all care and protection residences continue, Makaira's got one message.

"Listen to the kids, especially because the kids know what actually goes on in that residence. The people up north have no idea what's going on."

Dame Sue says people should be listening to what Makaira has to say.

"'Good on him, and let's listen to him because he's saying some really sensible stuff," she says.

Oranga Tamariki declined to comment while the investigation is ongoing, but some already believe the outcome should be more training and counselling for staff.