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Family law

If Oranga Tamariki deals with you outside the court system


This section explains about the different steps Oranga Tamariki might take that don’t involve the more serious option of going to the Family Court to get Care or Protection Orders, like a Custody Order.

The first three options may be used when Oranga Tamariki doesn’t think your child needs care or protection but thinks there are issues that need to be addressed or that the family or whānau needs some support:

  • Family/whānau agreements – A meeting or hui might be held to agree on how Oranga Tamariki can provide support over the next few months.
  • Hui ā-whānau – Oranga Tamariki has started using hui ā-whānau for tamariki Māori. They’re based around tikanga Māori, and they’re facilitated by a whānau member or a kairaranga ā-whānau or someone else who is strong in tikanga.
  • Agreements for children to leave the family/whānau for a while – You can agree with Oranga Tamariki (or a service like Barnardos) that they’ll look after your child for a time, which in some cases could be up to a year.

The fourth option – a formal Family Group Conference – is what has to happen when Oranga Tamariki decide your child needs care or protection. If the Family Group Conference can deal with the problems, then the case won’t need to go to the Family Court.

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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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