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Family/whānau agreements: Informal agreements for support from Oranga Tamariki

When will a family/whānau meeting be called, and what is the meeting for?

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 17(2A)

A family/whānau agreement is an option when Oranga Tamariki doesn’t think your child needs care or protection but they do have some concerns and they think the issues can be dealt with and you can be cared for adequately within your family or whānau. Oranga Tamariki can then ask for a family/whānau meeting, which will include your immediate family or whānau and anyone else you want to invite. (This is not a Family Group Conference, which is discussed later in this section.)

A family/whānau agreement is likely to be appropriate when your family or whānau thinks there’s a problem and wants to work it out. It must usually be the kind of problem that can be addressed in the short term (within three months, or six months at the most). An example is when a tired and stressed single parent needs some time out.

The aim of the meeting is to agree on a detailed plan about what will happen. Oranga Tamariki will provide support services – for example, home help, individual or family/whānau counselling, budgeting advice, advice in parenting skills, short-term care for children, or transport. The agreement usually lasts for up to three months.

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, ss 7(2), 17(2A)

These family/whānau meetings and agreements aren’t specifically mentioned in the Oranga Tamariki Act – they’re something that Oranga Tamariki has developed in practice as part of its official duty to provide services and policies that support children.

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 18

These informal meetings are also different from “Family Group Conferences”, which are formal meetings that are part of the process the law sets out for dealing with care and protection cases (see later in this section). If Oranga Tamariki thinks your child needs care or protection they have to call a Family Group Conference and won’t call an informal family/whānau meeting.

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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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