22 Oct 2021

Ngāi Tahu whānau programme given $26m in move to 'shift the system'

6:29 pm on 22 October 2021

A new prevention programme designed and led by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to reduce the number of Māori tamariki and rangatahi entering state care has been given a funding injection from the Government.


Photo: 123RF

It's hoped to help improve outcomes for whānau in the Ngāi Tahu tribal area.

Nearly $26 million in funding from Oranga Tamariki will go to the iwi's Whānau as First Navigators programme.

Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai said the fund will help pay the bills for kaupapa Māori providers supporting whānau.

"To our providers, you have told us you feel like both the ambulance and the emergency room in a model that is too Pākehā focused, which is not working for our tamariki and for our whānau, we have heard you," she said today.

"Today, we are making steps to remove those barriers, shift the system and rewrite the narrative."

Appearing via Zoom owing to a cancelled flight today, Children's Minister Kelvin Davis announced the funding will be over three years.

And he signalled it might be a sign of things to come.

"It also represents a change in the way that the Crown is interacting with Māori," he said.

"We know the previous approaches just haven't worked.

"So, change is needed and some change has been made, but there is going to be more change to come."

Oranga Tamariki acting chief executive Chappi Te Kani said the funding comes with no expectations from the agency.

"Every iwi will have different approaches, different ideas about innovation, different ways of working," he said.

"What it signals is, Oranga Tamariki is open to having those kōrero with those iwi about those solutions, that's the first thing.

"The second thing is, we want to work in partnership with Māori and Oranga Tamariki does not believe it has all of the solutions."

In the last financial year, around 68 percent of tamariki and rangatahi in Oranga Tamariki care were Māori.

But since first signing a strategic partnership with the agency in 2018, the number of Ngāi Tahu tamariki in care has dropped from 362 to 262 by the end of June this year.

Kaihautū (chief executive) Arihia Bennett said on the ground, whānau will be encouraged to seek support if they need extra help.

"The quickest way to be able to do that, is to actually lean into those communities' supports, lean into organisations to extended whānau, where they can actually get that support, rather than ending up in a Crown organisation or even in a bigger picture iwi organisation."

And Lisa Tumahai said there are a lot of barriers Ngāi Tahu whānau are facing.

"Access information awareness, the right support mechanisms, not feeling whakamā to actually ask for help - they're some of the things we've got to cut through."

The ultimate goal must be decreasing the number of tamariki Māori in care - and it's hard mahi, she said.

"If I put my kaupapa Māori provider hat on, we're underfunded by about 15 percent with our MSD and OT contracts [Ministry of Social Development and Oranga Tamariki].

"So that's before you even start to think about how you can tailor the services to what's needed, that's just how the contracting mechanism works - you've got to go and find that 15 percent from somewhere else.

"So, this is a way of us being able to tailor those things to meet our solutions."

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