Partnering with mana whenua in Moeraki

Published: November 8, 2023

This year Oranga Tamariki and Te Hā o Maru have partnered to provide social services for the local community in Moeraki, Oamaru. They are starting to see positive results from their work together.

The Oranga Tamariki and Te Hā o Maru team
Te Hā o Maru and Oranga Tamarik kaimahi are co-locating at a site in Oamaru. (Mani Malloy-Sharplin is centre)

Creating the partnership

Te Hā o Maru was established a year ago, in October 2022. While it was being created, they started to think about potential partnerships in the social services space. They wanted to provide services for tamariki, rangatahi and their whānau.

The team reached out to Oranga Tamariki and had conversations with Kellie Blyth. Kellie is a Regional Manager of Services for Children and Families.

Through these conversations, the two sides identified a unique opportunity to work together and enrich local services.

How the partnership works

Teams from Te Hā o Maru and Oranga Tamariki work together on cases in the area.

For example, if Oranga Tamariki receives a report of concern about a tamariki Māori, they will consult with Te Hā o Maru. Both sides are then included in the conversations and the process of making decisions.

Staff from both organisations are co-located at a site in Oamaru. Oranga Tamariki has funded a Social Worker and seconded a Kairaranga-a-whānau (a specialist Māori role) to support Te Hā o Maru.

Early success

It’s early days for the new service and the partnership. There is a focus on early intervention and prevention. This means that families can stay together, with support from their communities. There have already been successful cases where tamariki or rangatahi have not needed to come into care.

Kellie Blyth explains:

"Empowering partners to join us at the decision-making table is a key part of our direction of travel at Oranga Tamariki. We know it leads to good outcomes for tamariki, rangatahi and their whānau.

"Our partners’ reach into our communities supports engagement and healing and can mean that whānau don't need to be involved with statutory care and protection and youth justice services.

"We were delighted to be approached and have the opportunity to develop a new way of working with Te Hā o Maru. We look forward to continuing to develop our whanaungatanga and kotahitanga (unity) through this partnership.”

Mani Malloy-Sharplin, Executive Officer at Te Hā o Maru, says:

"This was an opportunity for us to work with government (Oranga Tamariki) in a unique way as mana whenua. Naturally there’s been some bumps to smooth out as we navigate the partnership and new way of working together, but overall it has been really positive.

"It’s taken us roughly 4 years from when Moeraki first set out to create this health and social service, due to the delays of the pandemic. We’re a new service, but it's great to see how fast we've established the kaupapa and are providing integral services and offering solutions and connection to our whānau on the fringes.

"We will support anyone in our community, but our focus is on whānau Māori and Pacific. So this partnership means that when one of these whānau comes to the attention of Oranga Tamariki, we're at the table straight away as equal partners and decision makers."

Future steps

There is potential in the future for Family Group Conference (FCG) Coordinators and Youth Worker roles to be shared between Oranga Tamariki and Te Hā o Maru.

The two organisations are also considering:

  • how non-statutory services could be devolved as the partnership progresses
  • what community-led interventions will make the most impact.

About Te Hā o Maru

Te Hā o Maru is a health and social service in Moeraki, Oamaru. It was established as an organisation in October 2022. The service is owned by Te Rūnanga o Moeraki.

Te Rūnanga o Moeraki is one of the 18 Ngāi Tahu Papatipu Rūnaka. They are tasked with maintaining the mana of Kāi Tahu Whānui (wider family) in the takiwā (region).

Oranga Tamariki and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement in 2021 to commit to ‘Whānau Rangatirangatanga’ and work in partnership.

Te Hā o Maru is a kauapapa Māori service for the Waitaki District. This means it centres Their mission is to enable whānau and hapū to prosper and to protect their takiwā (region).

In the health and social services space, they are making this happen through ensuring equitable services for Māori and Pacific peoples, with a focus on prevention. This can range from smoke-free coaching, to navigating fast-tracks for hospital care.