There is currently a movement within Oranga Tamariki to devolve power and resources to hapū and iwi, alongside and together with devolvement to local communities. The focus is on a new system that is ‘locally led, centrally enabled’
This direction is shaped by the multiple reviews, inquiries and reforms over the last 3 years, particularly the Waitangi Tribunal findings, which recommended the child welfare system apparatus move away from a ‘notify-investigate’ system to one that is radically different in terms of structure, aims, powerholders and resource distribution. Calls to create meaningful partnerships with iwi and hapū were reiterated as a method to achieve this (they were already required under the 2019 amendments to the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989). Returning to regional and community-based commissioning of services, focussed on earlier prevention and local decision-making, are at the forefront of the change. These directions are similar to those happening elsewhere in the globe, where the weight of the deep inequities reflected in child welfare systems are calling attention to the inherent problems of focussing only on children in societies highly structured by class, ethnicity and gender; where to do so creates artificial and often harmful distinctions between what children need and what the adults who care for them need; and where the power connected to statute distorts relationships and challenges participatory practice. (for example, see the US debate here, the Australian debate outlined here Tied up with this is recognition of the long reach of colonisation and its repercussions today.