The Minister for Children Tracey Martin has announced the terms of reference for the Oranga Tamariki-Ministry for Children review into the case of the Hawkes Bay mother and her baby.
The review will be led by the Chief Social Worker at Oranga Tamariki. A person appointed by Ngāti Kahungunu and with the relevant expertise, mana and connection will provide independent oversight. The Ministry is waiting for Ngāti Kahungunu to confirm who they wish to take on that role.
The Children’s Commissioner will also provide input into the design, progress and findings.
“I travelled to the Hawkes Bay over the weekend to meet with Ngāti Kahungunu and the Maori Council to listen to their concerns and to consider a pathway to do better, not just for Maori children, but for all children,” says Minister Martin.
On Sunday Minister Martin announced the review, as well as the establishment of a partnership between Oranga Tamariki and Ngāti Kahungunu to reduce the number of children going care.
“There are always lessons to be learned from difficult situations. If there are ways Oranga Tamariki can work better with whānau, iwi and everyone involved in the care of children, I know they’ll embrace that.”
The review is limited to the period between 12 February 2019 and 9 May 2019. That is from the time Oranga Tamariki first became aware the mother was pregnant, until she and her baby were discharged from hospital.
“I know many people have been deeply impacted by the recent events in the Hawkes Bay,” says Minister Martin. “The review will provide an opportunity for the voices of the mother, father and whānau to be heard and for their views to be considered.”
As well as focusing on the engagement with whānau, iwi and other professionals and key stakeholders, the review will examine the quality of the assessment and planning, the manner and method of processes undertaken, and how Oranga Tamariki worked as part of a wider interagency group.
“It is important to remember that Oranga Tamariki never works in isolation,” says Minister Martin. “Whenever a child is removed from their parents’ care a court order by a judge is required and the decision is made on the basis that the safety of the child is paramount.”
The internal review will also consider whether the communication relating to the custody application was sufficient and whether it was appropriate for it to be made ‘without notice’.
The three objectives of the review are:
- To understand what occurred from the perspective of the mother, father, whānau, Oranga Tamariki staff, iwi and other professionals
- To identify what can be learned from a local and national perspective
- To strengthen local relationships and ways of working together.
The review is due to be completed by the end of July recognising however that the work will need to progress at a pace appropriate to the needs of the whānau, the Ministry’s partners and the community. The decision about whether its findings will be made public will be made in consultation with the whānau and Ngāti Kahungunu.