Whānau Ora was created in response to a recognition by Government that standard ways of delivering social and health services were not working and outcomes particularly for Māori whānau were not improving.

In 2010, Whānau Ora was launched as an innovative whānau-centred approach to supporting whānau wellbeing and development. The development of Whānau Ora occurred after the Taskforce on Whānau-Centred Initiatives presented a report to Government in 2009. The report has provided the framework for Whānau Ora development throughout Aotearoa

The following principles underline all components of the framework, serve as essential foundations, and are important markers to guide the selection of indicators, outcome measures, and the allocation of funding for whānau-centred initiatives:

  • a kaupapa tuku iho (the ways in which Māori values, beliefs, obligations and responsibilities
  • are available to guide whānau in their day-to-day lives)
  • whānau opportunity
  • best whānau outcomes
  • whānau integrity
  • coherent service delivery
  • effective resourcing
  • competent and innovative provision.

On 8 April 2010, then Prime Minister John Key appointed Hon Tariana Turia as the Minister Responsible for Whānau Ora to  work closely with other relevant Government Ministers and the Whānau Ora Governance Group to oversee the roll-out and progress of Whānau Ora.

The implementation of Whānau Ora has occurred in two phases:Phase One of Whānau Ora (2010 - 2013), focused on building the capability of providers to design and deliver whānau-centred services.

Phase Two (2014 - present day), moved implementation by Government to three non-government Commissioning Agencies to invest directly into their communities. This means funding decisions are made closer to communities and allows for flexible and innovative approaches to meet the needs and aspirations of whānau.

In 2015, a Whānau Ora Partnership Group, made up of six Iwi and six Crown representatives, was established. This group provides a strategic oversight of Whānau Ora and advises the Minister for Whānau Ora.

The three Commissioning Agencies:

  1. Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu works with whānau in the South Island.
  2. Te Pou Matakana works with whānau in the North Island.
  3. Pasifika Futures is dedicated to working with Pacific Island families across the country.

Whānau Ora Commissioning Agencies are contracted to fund and support initiatives which deliver the Government’s Whānau Ora outcomes.  They act as brokers in matching the needs and aspirations of whānau with initiatives that assist them to increase their capability.

As a commissioning agency Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu works on behalf of the nine iwi of Te Waipounamu to determine the best ways to support whanau development. Our approach aims to create social impact by investing directly in initiatives developed by whānau or whānau collectives, community providers such as iwi, marae, education providers, church groups, land trusts or sports groups.    We also have established a significant workforce of Whānau Ora Navigators who work directly with up to twenty whānau at a time, supporting them to develop their own pathway plans.

The key to Whānau Ora is in local solutions and that whānau know best what works for them... We firmly believe our way of working and empowering whānau to find the solutions themselves is the right approach.

We envisaged that change could and would come from the flax roots and that the pathway of change to greater self-determination and choice would be created by whānau entrepreneurs and leaders operating on the ground and prepared to take their wider communities with them.

We saw Whānua Ora as an oportunity to do things differently. We were not bidding to be the Government’s alternative welfare net; we were bidding to be an impact investor, to foster a pipeline of investment in whānau capability and innovation.