Specialist Māori roles: Evidence synthesis

Published: September 30, 2019

This evidence synthesis provides findings from evaluation reports and other recent studies on the specialist Māori roles and their potential to improve outcomes for tamariki Māori.


The Expert Advisory Panel Final Report (2015) identified the need for a stronger focus on reducing the over-representation of Māori young people in the New Zealand care and protection system. In addition, findings from an Office of the Children's Commissioner report (2017) on the quality of Family Group Conference (FGC) preparation and participation, highlighted the need for more culturally appropriate engagement with tamariki and whānau Māori.

These reports underpinned the subsequent Oranga Tamariki transformation programme and led to the establishment of specialist Māori roles through the Enhancing Tamariki and Whānau Participation in Decision-Making programme.

This evidence synthesis seeks to assess the implementation of these roles thus far, to identify critical success factors to inform successful practice and to develop preliminary understanding of how these roles may help to improve outcomes for tamariki Māori.

The Evidence Centre worked alongside independent evaluators of the newly developed Iwi-led Family Group Conferences. In addition, a separate evaluation of Oranga Tamariki’s kairāranga-a-whānau roles, including the voices of whānau and tamariki was commissioned.

The skill set of Specialist Māori Roles is a unique Te Ao Māori base of skills, experience connections and knowledge.

Key findings

The body of evidence found that the specialist Māori roles provided a promising means of engagement and support to whānau, to enable their early participation in decision-making.

The roles have the potential to contribute to improved outcomes for tamariki Māori over time. Preliminary findings were that the roles:

  • Increased whānau participation at Family Group Conferences, particularly from the paternal side of whānau
  • Enabled earlier participation by whānau, prior to any Family Group Conferences, through the convening of hui-a-whānau
  • Resulted in a better quality of experience for whānau, with more traction on agreed actions
  • Allowed whānau to resolve some of their own issues without further escalation, and to draw on a wider pool of support identified through whakapapa searching
  • Made it more likely that a plan would be agreed with whānau that addressed issues identified that could affect tamariki ora
  • Enabled a more culturally appropriate process that could strengthen cultural identity.