A regional whānau-centred social sector: case study

Published: December 6, 2021

Manaaki Tairāwhiti is an Iwi-led partnership changing the way that social services work together across Tairāwhiti. This case study sets out Manaaki Tairāwhiti’s journey, success factors and direction of travel as an example of local social service leadership.


Manaaki Tairāwhiti was developed in response to issues familiar across the social sector in Aotearoa – disconnection, duplication, siloed working, and services being developed and delivered for a region without first understanding the needs of whānau and communities.

Members of the Evidence Centre spent two days learning about the organisation and its kaupapa, talking with and listening to some of its employees and board members as well as members of the social service organisations that work with them.

This short case study captures the factors that underpin Manaaki Tairāwhiti’s successes, and looks at how the group has addressed the inevitable challenges.

Key findings

Manaaki Tairāwhiti is a governance board where the region’s decision-makers can sit around the same table

A collective approach to governance not only rationalises meetings and connections across the wider sector, but ensures that everyone is working to a shared vision of whānau wellbeing.

The Manaaki Tairāwhiti methodology is to use the unmodified voice of whānau to understand the wider system

The perspectives of whānau, including what they say about their goals and needs, is treated as crucial to the work that social services do.

Using regional advantages to challenge national barriers

Regionally-led services must leverage existing relationships, trust, knowledge and networks to enable decision-making to occur in the community.

Iwi leadership aspires to pursue systemic change

This leadership has an aspiration of working toward decentralising the commissioning of social services to the community. This corresponds to a growing awareness among central government social agencies that few social issues can be addressed without local knowledge and thorough understanding of local contexts and that therefore these issues are best addressed by the communities themselves.