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.

Did this answer your question?

Dealing with Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online:

Oranga Tamariki/Ministry for Children

Oranga Tamariki’s website has a range of information about the care and protection issues discussed in this chapter.

Phone: 0508 326 459


Barnardos delivers a range of child, family and education services throughout New Zealand.  Check their website to see what services are available in your area.

Phone: 0800 BARNARDOS (0800 227 627)

Family Court

The Family Court website has information about how a government agency can apply for a Care or Protection Order of a child.

Website: and select “Family” then “Keeping children safe” and “When Oranga Tamariki gets involved”.

VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai

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

Phone: 0800 4VOYCE (0800 486 923)

Youthline Aotearoa

Youthline provides free counselling, information and referral services.

Phone: 0800 BARNARDOS (0800 227 627)
Free text: 234

Women’s Refuge

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

Crisis line (24/7): 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843)

Children’s Commissioner

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.

Phone: 0800 224 453

Office of the Ombudsman

The Ombudsman handles complaints about Government agencies, such as Oranga Tamariki or the Police.

Phone: 0800 802 602
To make a complaint online: go to the website above and select “get help (for the public)”

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top