30 Jun 2023

End of an era: Children’s Commissioner role disestablished

From Nine To Noon, 9:08 am on 30 June 2023
A tourist family enjoys the sunset at Rapahoe Beach near Greymouth (file photo)

Photo: 123RF

Tomorrow the high-profile role of the Children's Commissioner will officially be disestablished, replaced with a board of three to six members - a move many fear will significantly weaken the power of the role.

The Oversight of Oranga Tamariki System Act 2022 splits the office's advocacy role from its monitoring function, to be carried out by the Independent Children's Monitor, which will be hosted by the Education Review Office.

The change has been highly controversial and was opposed by all political parties, apart from Labour.

Of the 499 public submissions, only eight expressed their support, with an overwhelming majority strongly opposing the bill.

Opponents were concerned the change would dilute the office's role as an advocate and would lose its independence, ultimately leading to worse outcomes for tamariki. 

Kathryn speaks with Judge Frances Eivers, the current Children's Commissioner, who follows Judge Andrew Becroft, Russell Wills, John Angus, Dame Cindy Kiro, and the late Ian Hassall, who have all been powerful advocates for children.