Ngā Ripo – Training and Development for Caregiving Whānau

Published: October 12, 2020

Journeys of Change – a Kaupapa Māori research study.


This report describes the findings from a Kaupapa Māori research study of six distinct Training and Development for Caregiving Whānau pilot programmes - aimed to improve the capability of caregiving whānau, build better attachments between tamariki and their caregiving whānau, and achieve placement stabilisation.

Kaupapa Māori research often involves “by Māori, for Māori, with Māori” and participatory approaches committed to social justice and equity.

  • Exploratory research centred on understanding the journeys experienced by caregivers, provider staff, and Oranga Tamariki social workers.
  • Evaluative aspects were included, related to procurement, design and implementation, and early outcomes described by participants.

The research was commissioned in late 2017, and ran through to the end of June 2019. The pilots were one of the first things Oranga Tamariki did to improve learning opportunities for caregiving whānau.

Since the research was commissioned, a significant amount of work has been done to strengthen how Oranga Tamariki works with and supports caregivers, tamariki and whānau. This includes responding to the eight recommendations made in the report.

Key findings

Findings are based on the experiences of 67 caregivers, 35 provider staff, and 31 Oranga Tamariki regional social workers supporting the programmes.

A schedule of 59 individual and group interviews included repeat caregiver interviews, enabling researchers to ‘walk alongside’ caregivers as they shared insights, reflected on experiences, and contributed to the research analysis. Most significant change stories were developed, providing in-depth personal stories of the changes and effects from the programmes.

Ngā Ripo, a conceptual model based on te ao Māori concepts, was developed to describe the rippling effect of change in caregivers as a result of their programme: beginning within the self; then to improved interactions with tamariki and whānau; to improved relationships with wider whakapapa and agencies; and further, to change values and assumptions that influence behaviour.

Caregivers described improvements across three broad domains:

  • Mauri Ora: improved confidence and self-value; new understandings of colonisation, trauma and attachment, and of their own interactions with tamariki; and success with practical approaches to challenging situations and behaviours.
  • Kotahitanga: improved relationships between caregivers, and with Oranga Tamariki.
  • Te Ao Māori: deeper understandings, valuing, and engaging with te ao Māori.

All programmes contributed to whānau ora by supporting more positive and healing whānau environments.

Inner journeys and subsequent changes with whānau and wider whakapapa were most apparent in caregiver stories from Kaupapa Māori and te ao Māori grounded programme delivery.

Both Māori and Tauiwi (non-Māori) experienced benefits; approaches taken by the programmes were effective across cultural boundaries.