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Family law

Complaints and investigations

After an investigation – What next?

What can happen after a report’s been investigated?

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, ss 17, 18

There are three main options:

  • The child’s OK – and so Oranga Tamariki doesn’t take any action
  • The child’s OK but the family/whānau needs help – and so Oranga Tamariki calls a meeting or hui to try to reach a “family/whānau agreement” to address Oranga Tamariki’s concerns
  • The child needs care or protection – and so Oranga Tamariki starts the process of calling a formal Family Group Conference. Later, the Family Court could also get involved.

We explain about these three options next.

If the child’s OK

If the investigators decide the child doesn’t need care or protection according to the grounds in the Oranga Tamariki Act, the family/whānau and the person who made the report will be told, and nothing else will happen. (To find out about those grounds, see “How to respond to Oranga Tamariki’s court application.”)

If the child’s OK but the family or whānau needs help

If it’s decided the child doesn’t need care or protection but the family/whānau may be having difficulties and need support, Oranga Tamariki can call an informal meeting or hui to try to come up with an agreed solution.

Oranga Tamariki calls this a “family/whānau agreement”. The agreement will set out a plan and goals for addressing the concerns.

If Oranga Tamariki think the child needs care or protection

If the investigating social worker believes the child needs care or protection they’ll notify a Care and Protection Coordinator from Oranga Tamariki. The coordinator will arrange a Family Group Conference to plan with the family or whānau how any concerns can be addressed.

In these cases the social worker doesn’t have the option of taking the issue to an informal family/whānau meeting – legally, they have to pass on the case to a Care and Protection Coordinator so that there can be a Family Group Conference.

If Oranga Tamariki thinks the child needs urgent protection, they can take some emergency action, including removing them from their family/whānau or home (see “If Oranga Tamariki takes urgent action”).

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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)
Email: enquiry@ot.govt.nz

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
Email: publications@justice.govt.nz



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)
Email: information.sheets@barnardos.org.nz

Children’s Commissioner


Contact the Office of the Children’s Commissioner:

Phone: 0800 224 453
Email: advice@occ.org.nz

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
Email: talk@youthline.co.nz

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
Email: info@refuge.org.nz

Office of the Ombudsman


Free phone: 0800 802 602

Email: office@Ombudsman.parliament.nz

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