Whare Ngaakau Nui – a new home for tamariki and rangatahi with high complex needs

Published: January 10, 2023

A karakia was held in Manurewa in December 2022 to officially open Whare Ngaakau Nui, a new purpose-built home for tamariki and rangatahi with high complex, special needs and specialist treatment.

Whare Ngaakau Nui is the first completed multi-purpose small new build for Oranga Tamariki.

Oranga Tamariki CE Chappie Te Kani says “Whare Ngaakau Nui is a response to the Ministerial Advisory Board’s report Te Kahu Aroha, which sets expectations for Oranga Tamariki to change the way it works with Māori and communities to deliver better outcomes for tamariki and whānau. The report highlighted the need for decision making and resources to be shifted to communities, with tamariki and whānau at the centre.”

An opportunity for effective engagement with whanau, hapū and iwi

Chappie says Whare Ngaakau Nui is also our opportunity to have effective engagement with whānau, hapū and iwi whereby they are working alongside us in our statutory roles, to make decisions about their tamariki.

Oranga Tamariki is currently working with mana whenua in the area and iwi care providers to look at the best care options for tamariki and rangatahi who will reside in Whare Ngaakau Nui.

As at 31 May 2022, Oranga Tamariki had partnered with 73 community and iwi organisations to support children and young people in statutory care, 36% of which are iwi and Māori providers. Additionally, Oranga Tamariki had partnered with 81 community and iwi organisations to support young people as they get ready to leave care or custody, 43% of which are iwi and Māori providers.

Chappie says Whare Ngaakau Nui is the ministry’s commitment to building capacity with iwi and community providers to provide care for the tamariki who will be living in the home.

“It’s important tamariki receive the right support to connect with whānau, hapū and iwi and to live in a community that provides kinship and wraparound services to support their needs.”

An adjoining whare has also been built for whānau to visit and stay to enhance the identity and connections of the tamariki and rangatahi.

Support staff will be available for tamariki and rangatahi inside the home as part of transition plans as the tamariki get older.

“The safety of tamariki, staff and caregivers is paramount. Whare Ngaakau Nui has also been designed and built with safety features to protect the tamariki, rangatahi, whānau, staff and caregivers.”

The beginning of Whare Ngaakau Nui

The Government committed $65 million of funding in its 2019 Budget to help meet a shortage of suitable long-term and stable placement options for tamariki with complex needs.

Whare Ngaakau Nui sits under the Te Whakaruruhau – Specialist Group Home project which will help meet this gap by supporting small groups of tamariki in a home environment with 24/7 care from specialist kaimahi.

Tamariki who live in specialist group homes are generally not able to live with whānau or other caregivers, and may have experienced several placement breakdowns.

Find out more about the whare and take a look inside by watching the videos below:

Inside Whare Ngaakau Nui

Inside Whare Ngaakau Nui


Pare Rauwhero:  

The name of the Whare Ngaakau Nui, it's about having a big heart. Those who come here and those who will have good intentions in terms of how we take care of our mokopuna will need to have he ngākau nui. I think it's really, really important that we start with Rangi and with Papa. Ka whiti te ao mārama, The beginning of our life journey. It's also important to bring about and understand the teachings of our tūpuna. 

Terry Badham:  

It's not exclusive in any way. It's for everybody. And this is really important. It's really important and any iwi but also any ethnicity as well. It's designed for the more complex, mokopuna we have in our care. Often some of the challenges they face are self harm for example, violence, sexual abuse, quite a myriad of high and complex needs that need to be accommodated for. The home will cater for 4 mokopuna, and they can come and go as they need. They will never be detained. This is their home. So they if they wanted to go, they can go. So it's very different to a facility where they're detained for example. But there is a place to pōwhiri, There is a place to call and we hope that that is a part of the way the home is run. Tikanga will be infused and into the experience as well, but also into the way of life and inside the home. The way the home is designed is with four bedrooms of the central core and that allows for people to be within a space to get it so they're observable, but to also have a private space. So that's kind of the nuts and bolts. It's a very long detailed story as to why, but I think connection to the whenua, connection to the people and safety, homeliness, they'd be four things thathave driven this design.