The Government has announced $25.9 million in funding from Oranga Tamariki will go to an iwi-led programme with the aim of reducing the number of tamariki and rangatahi entering state care.
Children's Minister Kelvin Davis announced on Friday afternoon Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu [Te Rūnanga] will receive the funding over three years to improve outcomes for whānau in the Ngāi Tahu takiwā [tribal area] through their Whānau as First Navigators programme.
The programme will build on the great work already underway in the region focussing on a by Māori, for Māori approach, Davis said.
“This partnership approach is exactly the kind of thinking that is needed to improve the lives of tamariki and whānau and fix the problems that have long plagued the state care system,” Davis said.
“I firmly believe that communities have the answers to these problems and for too long the state has been put at the centre of the system – that has to change.”
Davis said the announcement follows on from the Government’s acceptance of all recommendations from the Ministerial Advisory Board set up to provide advice on how to address issues facing Oranga Tamariki. It is also part of a refreshing of the Strategic Partnership Agreement between Ngāi Tahu and Oranga Tamariki which was first signed in 2018.
Since the partnership was formed, the number of Ngāi Tahu tamariki in Oranga Tamariki care has dropped by almost 30 per cent, Davis added.
“For decades various reports and reviews have echoed the need for change,” he said.
“I am committed to seeing us on the road to that change as my time as Minister and this partnership between Ngāi Tahu and Oranga Tamariki gives us a glimpse of what is possible when we work together.”