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Family law

How to challenge decisions by Oranga Tamariki or the Family Court

Challenging decisions or actions by Oranga Tamariki

The Family Court’s role in overseeing Oranga Tamariki

The Family Court plays a supervising role over decisions and actions by Oranga Tamariki. For example, when Oranga Tamariki applies for a Care or Protection Order for a child, Oranga Tamariki has to provide the judge with a clear and specific plan about what will happen and what the goals are. The plan will also state what Oranga Tamariki is expected to do, like providing certain kinds of support.

Complaining to the Ombudsman about decisions made by Oranga Tamariki

Ombudsmen Act 1975, s 13

The Ombudsman investigate complaints from members of the public about the decisions or conduct of government bodies and officials.

The Ombudsman can’t investigate decisions made by Oranga Tamariki about custody (day-to-day care) and access (contact).

But they can investigate other decisions and actions of Oranga Tamariki, such as:

  • the way it investigated a concern about the safety of your child
  • the way it acted in taking your child from you after a Family Court order was made that your child must go into care
  • the standard of service provided by social workers from Oranga Tamariki
  • delays in responding to your letters, or failing to respond to your phone calls
  • Oranga Tamariki not following its own policies and procedures.

For how to complain to the Ombudsman, see: “Complaining to Ombusdman: The process”.

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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 you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Oranga Tamariki/Ministry for Children

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

Website: www.orangatamariki.govt.nz
Email: contact@ot.govt.nz
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.

Website: www.barnardos.org.nz
Email: info@barnardos.org.nz
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: www.justice.govt.nz 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.

Website: www.voyce.org.nz
Phone: 0800 4VOYCE (0800 486 923)

Youthline Aotearoa

Youthline provides free counselling, information and referral services.

Website: www.youthline.co.nz
Email: talk@youthline.co.nz
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.

Website: www.womensrefuge.org.nz
Crisis line (24/7): 0800 REFUGE (0800 733 843)
Email: info@refuge.org.nz
Instagram: www.instagram.com/womensrefugenz
Facebook: www.facebook.com/womensrefugenz

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.

Website: www.occ.org.nz
Email: children@occ.org.nz
Phone: 0800 224 453

Office of the Ombudsman

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

Website: www.ombudsman.parliament.nz
Email: office@ombudsmen.parliament.nz
Phone: 0800 802 602
To make a complaint online: go to the website above and select “get help (for the public)”

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