Factors associated with disparities experienced by tamariki Māori 2022

Published: August 21, 2023

This update to the report first issued in 2020 explores the disparities between Māori and NZ European and Other tamariki in terms of their interactions with the Care and Protection System.


This report is a quantitative exploration of disparities for tamariki Māori, and is intended to generate further discussion and analysis about disparities in the system. It investigates the following key questions:

  1. Is there measurable disparity between Māori and ‘NZ European and Other’ tamariki before controlling for the influence of other factors? After controlling for these factors, are tamariki Māori still more likely to enter and progress through the care and protection system compared to ‘NZ European and Other’ ethnicities?
  2. How have disparities changed since the formation of Oranga Tamariki on 1 Āperira 2017?

Key findings

The analysis outlined in this report has found that disparities between Māori and ‘NZ European and Other’ tamariki do exist, however these are generally smaller when the overlap between other factors and ethnicity are considered.

Findings in this report come from 2 key focus areas:

Differences in care and protection involvement* for Māori and ‘NZ European and Other’ tamariki

This analysis, conducted for the 10-year period to 31 Maehe 2020, found that:

  • Before controlling for other factors, tamariki Māori in all age groups appear more likely to have first-time involvements across all stages of the system, and this is most pronounced for reports of concern.
  • After controlling for other factors, differences between Māori and ‘NZ European and Other’ tamariki decrease. Nevertheless, ethnicity is still statistically associated with differences in all involvements across the system, except for first-time placements.

Examples of factors that have been found to have a significant association with escalation in care and protection involvement include:

  • lower parent income (for example, parent income in the lowest quartile, receiving main benefit)
  • parent history with Care and Protection, and/or recent Corrections involvement
  • child’s history of involvement with reports of concern, with greater weight placed on more recent reports and multiple instances of reporting
  • for tamariki under 5, emergency department (ED) contact, with additional weight on injury-related contacts.
  • for rangatahi (teenage children), recent indicators of school disengagement (for example, extended truancy and stand-downs) and mental health/substance usage treatment.

Differences in care and protection involvement for tamariki Māori and tamariki of ‘NZ European and Other’ ethnicities pre- and post-formation of Oranga Tamariki

  • Overall, ethnicity appears to be significantly associated with first-time reports of concern and referrals to assessments or investigations even after controlling for socioeconomic and other factors. This remains true both pre- and post-formation of Oranga Tamariki but does not appear to be statistically significant for Family Group Conferences and Family/Whānau Agreements or placements, with a few exceptions for specific age groups.

*This includes both Child, Youth and Family and Oranga Tamariki involvement.