Legislative Changes Signal Greater Opportunity for Whānau Influence

“1 July 2019 is an important day for whānau rights, responsibilities and opportunities,” says Te Putahitanga o Te Waipounamu, Pouārahi, Helen Leahy.

Two important legislative changes come into force today, impacting on the care and wellbeing of whānau.  The first is the impact of Section 7AA Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 / Children’s and Young People’s Well-being Act 1989.

Section 7AA sets out the duties of the Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki to recognise and provide a practical commitment to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.   Upfront in this legislative break-through, is that the policies, practices, and services of Oranga Tamariki must have regard for mana tamaiti and the whakapapa of Māori children and young persons and the whanaungatanga responsibilities of their whānau, hapū, and iwi.

“There has been a constant call from Puao-te-ata-tū; Matua Whāngai and more recently Whānau Ora, that tāngata whenua demand opportunity to determine their own solutions.     This is not just about being informed or consulted; the legislation now requires the department to develop strategic partnerships with iwi and Māori organisations,” says Ms Leahy.

“Strategic partnerships involve the co-design and co-investment with iwi and Māori in setting high, explicit expectations.  If we all want the best for our tamariki mokopuna; this is lifting the eyes of government to see the answers that lie within the people,” said Ms Leahy.  “Whānau should be enabled to be decision-makers in changes that affect them”.

The other big piece of legislative improvement is the Family Violence Act 2018 which replaces the Domestic Violence Act 1995.

The impact of this Act is to enable the family violence sector to take a more consistent response.   Fundamental in the new changes is that the Act requires that responses to family violence should be culturally appropriate and that responses involving Māori should reflect tikanga Māori (Māori customary values and practices).

“The Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Jan Logie has said that, “genuine partnership with Māori into our model will drive significant improvements in the system”. The law change also stipulates that acts of violence are unacceptable — and they are preventable.   We look forward to the work from Te Roopu, an interim Māori/Crown partnership group whose role is to create a stronger framework for supporting whānau to drive the changes required”.  

“In both the care of children, and the family violence sphere, we can learn from the leadership of whānau, hapū and iwi in finding meaningful, enduring responses to ensure the wellbeing and safety of whānau,” said Ms Leahy.

“Officials might call it prevention, early intervention, intensive intervention, social work practice, crisis response and long-term recovery.   We call it Whānau Ora.  This is about whānau leading the changes we need to see, to keep all our whānau free from harm – in all interpretations of the word”.

“The word of the law is changing – Whānau Ora in Te Waipounamu is doing our utmost to support whānau to achieve the solutions they know will work best for them”.

About us: Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu is a Commissioning Agency that works on behalf of the iwi in the South Island to support and enable whānau to create sustained social impact.  We do this by developing and investing in ideas and initiatives to improve outcomes for Māori, underpinned by whānau-centred principles and strategies; these include emergency preparedness and disaster recovery.  Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu also invests in Navigator roles to support and build whānau capability.   

Media Contact: Helen Leahy, Pouārahi, Chief Executive, Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, M: 021 881 031
Helen.Leahy@teputahitanga.org A: 10 Show Place, Addington, Christchurch

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