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Family law

If Oranga Tamariki takes urgent action

When Oranga Tamariki applies for urgent court orders

When Oranga Tamariki makes an urgent application to the Family Court

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 78

Usually Oranga Tamariki won’t take a case to the Family Court for a Care and Protection Order until after they’ve been through a Family Group Conference process.

But if they decide the case is very serious, Oranga Tamariki may decide they need to take urgent action and have the child removed from the parents or caregivers immediately. In that case they will apply straightaway to the judge for a temporary (“interim”) custody order. Under the interim order the child will be placed in their care straightaway and stay there while Oranga Tamariki’s application for full orders is going through the court system.

Cases: [2007] NZCA 453 – [2008] NZCA 169

Oranga Tamariki will usually apply for this temporary order “without notice” (sometimes also called “ex parte”) – this means that you won’t be told they’ve applied, and so you won’t get a chance to go in front of the judge and oppose the interim order before the judge decides whether to make it.

The judge will usually deal with the urgent application on the same day as it’s made.

To be able to make the interim custody order, the judge will have to be satisfied that the situation is very serious and that the child can’t be adequately protected by some order short of a custody order – like a temporary support order for example, where Oranga Tamariki would provide some help and supervision.

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 39

Oranga Tamariki may also apply for a court warrant to give the police power to come around to your place and take your child away with them (these are called “place of safety warrants”).

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 82

When an interim custody order has been made, Oranga Tamariki can decide to return the child to the parents or caregivers (so long as they’ve consulted with any lawyer for the child who’s been appointed by the Family Court), or to let them have contact with the child (access).

If Oranga Tamariki gets an interim custody order in these situations, it will still have to arrange a Family Group Conference before the judge decides whether or not to make a full custody order.

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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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