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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, ss 39, 78, 82

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 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”).

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 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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