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If Oranga Tamariki deals with you outside the court system

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, ss 7(2), 17(2A), 18

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.

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.

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: “Family Group Conferences: Official action from Oranga Tamariki”). 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 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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