Mana Tamariki, why it’s been a success - Aaron Matchitt

Published: February 23, 2022 · Updated: February 23, 2022

Social Worker, Aaron Matchitt, is part of the Mana Tamariki team, a group of social workers based in Grey Lynn who work with whānau to support them to achieve their goals using intensive wraparound support.

Aaron Matchitt with the Mana Tamariki team.
From left: Aaron Matchitt with the Mana Tamariki team.

The tamariki they work with have had severe experiences of trauma through their childhood and have suffered mostly physical abuse and neglect. This is inter-generational and the parents have often had similar experiences.

What is Mana Tamariki?

The Mana Tamariki programme prioritises the voice of whānau, their vision and decisions.

The team ensure a wraparound team of professionals support whānau to help them make good choices and achieve their goals.

The initiative helps whānau manage behaviours, emotions, parenting and communication skills.

Wraparound puts the tamariki and whānau at the centre of a strong support team of professionals, whānau and community members. Ideas from whānau and perspectives about what they need and what will be helpful drive all the work in the wraparound. All of this supports whānau in making good choices to achieve their goals.

Mana Tamariki is best described as this: Beneath every behaviour is a feeling. Beneath every feeling is a need. When we meet that need rather than focus on the behaviour, we begin to deal with the cause rather than the symptom.

How successful is this programme?

Whānau have had some real success since the programme began at the end of 2018. We have seen whānau transition out of the programme after making significant changes with the support of a committed wraparound team.

For example, one tamaiti the team worked with had been in the care system for some time, had severe behavioural challenges and a disrupted school experience that resulted in multiple exclusions. 

After more than two years of intensive support, the tamaiti was able to return to the care of whānau and Oranga Tamariki discharged custody orders. The Mana Tamariki team’s mahi with this tamaiti was completely driven by goals developed by the whānau and the need of the tamaiti to feel a sense of belonging at home and at school.

When the team were able to meet this need, they saw a huge shift in behaviour because the tamaiti felt safe and secure, the whānau gradually felt more confident to manage and make their own decisions about care. 

The tamaiti is thriving at school with the support of the community and without the need for Oranga Tamariki involvement.

A Family Court judge was amazed at how this tamaiti completely turned their life around. The judge described the case as a positive situation and the turnaround which occurred with this tamaiti wasn’t something that happens every day. ​​​​​​​

Why did you join the Mana Tamariki team?

There was an element of inevitability with my journey into social work. I pursued study in different fields and worked in different areas, but I knew that I wanted to channel my values into mahi that was purposeful, to try to address some of the structural issues that see many of our whānau in really challenging situations.

I decided to do a Masters of Applied Social Work with Massey University which lead to my first role at Oranga Tamariki. Not long after that an opportunity presented itself with Mana Tamariki.

In Mana Tamariki I saw an opportunity to try something new in an emerging early intervention space within Oranga Tamariki. I liked the possibility of supporting tamariki to change their life trajectory by bringing all the systems in the life of a tamaiti to the table to create a best fit for the whānau.

What do you like about Mana Tamariki?

Social work is relational, and whakawhanaungatanga is a vital part of this. I like that we are able to build trusting relationships with the whānau we walk alongside. This relationship provides a platform for whānau to express their desires and wishes, to collaborate and feel a sense of support from a team who understands where they have come from and where they want to go.

We spend a lot of time working with team members to ensure that they are invested in the vision for a whānau. Wraparound really facilitates this by actively engaging whānau in problem solving through regular wraparound hui.

We pull on the strengths of the whānau and team members and utilise those strengths to come up with unique strategies that meet the needs of the tamaiti. This process produces really creative and individualised plans, and the whānau see small successes are gradually built upon over time.

I feel this is really aligned with a shift towards a mana enhancing paradigm that we are striving for. I also like that it is intensive, we are in the home with whānau every week and can support them with parenting skills and managing their emotions.