Home | Browse Topics | Family law | Dealing with Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children | The first step: Oranga Tamariki applies for Care or Protection Orders

Family law

If Oranga Tamariki takes you to court

The first step: Oranga Tamariki applies for Care or Protection Orders

When Oranga Tamariki applies for Care or Protection Orders

If Oranga Tamariki want to bring your child under the child protection laws and use powers like monitoring what’s happening with your child and your whānau, they’ll need to go in front of a Family Court judge and apply for official court orders. This could be, for example, an order putting your child in the care of Oranga Tamariki (a “Custody Order”), or possibly an order that you or someone else in your family or whānau isn’t allowed to have contact with the child (a “Restraining Order”).

Oranga Tamariki will need to show that your child needs care or protection on one of the grounds in the Oranga Tamariki Act.

Usually, a Family Group Conference will have been held before Oranga Tamariki applies to the Family Court. If the Family Group Conference was able to agree on a plan about what to do and action under that plan progresses like it’s supposed to, then the case usually won’t go to the Family Court at all. But if a second meeting of the Family Group Conference after a set time (a “review meeting”) finds that there wasn’t enough progress in doing what the plan says (like the things the parents were supposed to do), then Oranga Tamariki may decide to go to the Family Court. It’s a more serious action that Oranga Tamariki can take if they think the less serious course of action, the Family Group Conference, has failed to deal with the problems.

In urgent cases Oranga Tamariki may decide to apply to the Family Court straight away rather than going through the Family Group Conference process. But then a Family Group Conference has to be held anyway, after the application is made but before the judge decides the case.

How you’ll find out if Oranga Tamariki has applied to the Family Court

As the child’s parent, you’ll be given a copy of Oranga Tamariki’s application for care or Protection Orders. You’ll also be told when the case is going to be dealt with in the Family Court.

If Oranga Tamariki have also got a temporary custody order from the Family Court giving them or someone else custody of your child (also called “day-to-day care”), you’ll also be given a copy of this order.

If your child is 12 or older, the Family Court will also give them a copy of the application.

Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, s 153

The Family Court will choose a lawyer to represent the child, and you’ll be told who that lawyer is.

Did this answer your question?

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)”

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top