Complaints and investigations


Reports to Oranga Tamariki or the police that a child is being harmed or neglected

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 15

Anyone can contact Oranga Tamariki or the police if they think a child has been harmed or abused or neglected (including emotional harm), or if they have concerns about the child’s wellbeing. Oranga Tamariki also get reports from people worried about a child’s behaviour.

Sometimes reports come from members of the community. In some cases they may come from officials in the government or courts – for example, the Family Court if it’s concerned about a child who’s involved in a case at the court.

Reports to Oranga Tamariki can be made to their National Contact Centre phone line (0508 FAMILY – 0508 326 459). The National Contact Centre also gets emails, letters and faxes.

How reports of harm are assessed and investigated

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, ss 15, 17, 49

When someone reports abuse to Oranga Tamariki’s National Contact Centre, a social worker at the centre will assess the report and decide what should be done.

Sometimes they may decide that the report doesn’t need any further assessment or action. But they may instead decide that it should go to what they call a “child and family assessment”, or to an Oranga Tamariki investigation. Any case that could possibly be a criminal assault or other criminal offence will be investigated.

Once it’s decided that the case will need to go on to some further step like an assessment or investigation, Oranga Tamariki calls the report a “report of concern”.

Oranga Tamariki will do a child and family assessment, and not an investigation, when they think the child’s safety or wellbeing may be at risk but they don’t think there’s any need to involve the police or a criminal-type investigation.

The assessment will look at how safe the child is and what their care and protection needs are. It will look at the strengths that the child and the family/whānau can bring to the situation, and the services that Oranga Tamariki could provide to help.

The social worker or the police can also apply to a Family Court Judge for a court order for the child to have a medical examination. The judge can order an examination if they are satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect the child has been harmed, abused or neglected.

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Dealing with Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children

Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children replaced Child, Youth and Family in April 2017. Its website has a range of information about the care and protection issues discussed in this chapter.

Phone: 0508 FAMILY (0508 326 459)

Family Court

The Family Court website has a wide variety of pamphlets and other information on issues relating to children. Access pamphlets online or order hard copies:

Phone: 0800 587 847


Barnardos delivers a range of child and family services and early childhood care and education services throughout New Zealand. Barnardos also produces a range of fact sheets about children, parenting, child abuse and neglect, and school and family matters. For more information contact:

Phone: 0800 BARNARDOS (0800 227 627)

Children’s Commissioner

Contact the Office of the Children’s Commissioner:

Phone: 0800 224 453

The Office of the Children’s Commissioner looks to ensure that children’s rights are respected and upheld. It advocates for the best interests of all children and young people in New Zealand.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai

This is a non-government advocacy service for children and young people in state care. Set up in April 2017, “VOYCE” stands for “Voice of the Young and Care Experienced”.

Youthline Aotearoa

Phone: 0800 37 66 33
Free text: 234

Youthline provides free counselling, information and referral services.

Women’s Refuge

Women’s Refuge provides 24-hour support, advocacy and accommodation for women and their children experiencing family violence.

Crisis Line

Phone: 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843)

Women’s Refuge provides a free phone line for people anywhere in New Zealand. Get information, advice and support about family violence as well as help in a crisis.


A range of resources and fact sheets are available online.

Phone: (04) 802 5078

Office of the Ombudsman

Free phone: 0800 802 602


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